Extending their win streak to 10, No. 2 Stanford baseball (19-3, 6-0 Pac-12) shut out Fresno State (13-9, 4-5 MW) 2-0 at home. The ‘Dogs had defeated two nationally-ranked opponents this season and were coming off their first conference series win of the season, but were unable to topple the Cardinal.
In the last meeting between the two sides in 2013, the Cardinal swept a three-game series. “These midweek games are tough, and I credit our guys for coming out focused and getting the job done against a good team,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said.
Stanford has now won 24 consecutive midweek games dating back to 2017. “You can’t take them for granted,” Esquer said. “You can’t get bored of winning.”
In his first career start, Sophomore RHP Will Matthiessen (1.0, 2.25 ERA) threw 3.0 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out three. Matthiessen (0.355/0.446/0.559) batted clean-up, and following his outing moved to the DH, where he went 2-3 with a walk and a run. Matthiessen paces Stanford in hits (27), doubles (8), RBI (19), total bases (41).
“Our whole pitching staff was excellent, starting with Will Matthiessen and ending with Jack Little,” Esquer said.
The Cardinal only managed five hits, as did the ‘Dogs. Senior second baseman Duke Kinamon (310/370/357) was 2-3 and sophomore shortstop Tim Tawa (0.230/0.247/0.379) was 1-3 with an RBI, his 17th, putting him second behind Matthiessen.
In his third start of the season and fourth total appearance, McCarthy Tatum (0-0, 2.08 ERA) lasted 3.0 innings, surrendered two hits and two walks while striking out two. One of those walks issued was to junior catcher Maverick Handley (0.282/0.398/0.400), who reached base for the 23rd straight game.
The game was quiet early, but as is customary for midweek games, was replete with pitching changes. Freshman RHP Alex Williams (2-0, 1.42 ERA) entered in the top of the fourth inning, calmly throwing 2.0 scoreless innings with two strikeouts and two hits. Williams, however, benefitted from Stanford’s stellar defense, which is currently tied for No. 26 in the nation in fielding percentage.
After allowing a leadoff hit in the fourth inning, Williams faced Tatum as a pinch hitter, whose 0.348 average is the second best on the ‘Dogs roster. Tawa and Kinamon combined for a double play. A diving grab by senior outfielder Brandon Wulff the next inning capped the scoreless outing.
Fresno State also switched it around on the bump. Tatum was replaced by Jamison Hill (0-0, 3.24 ERA) for the fourth inning, who struck out one. Kevin Larson (1-0, 1.98 ERA) came in the next inning, facing the minimum and recording a strikeout in his 13th appearance.
Sophomore LHP Austin Weiermiller (4-0, 0.57 ERA) pitched a perfect top of the sixth in his only inning of work, earning the win as the Cardinal plated two the bottom of the frame.
“We’re really starting to get a feel for how to use that bullpen,” Esquer said.
Kyle Pruhsmeier (1-1, 4.91 ERA) was chased by a Matthiesen double and a Daschbach walk without recording an out. Both runners would come around to score, and Pruhsmeier would be charged with both runs and the loss.
Tiegen Jones (0-0, 1.17 ERA) replaced Pruhsmeier, inducing a flyout before Tawa scored Matthiesen with a double. Brueser hit a sacrifice fly the next batter, and Jones exited his ninth appearance of the season after 0.2 innings. Ryan Sullivan (0-0, 7.20 ERA) caught Bellafronto looking on a full count, and escaped the jam.
Pitching with a lead, freshman RHP Cody Jensen (1-0, 1.17 ERA) recorded five straight outs with three strikeouts before allowing a walk. Esquer called on junior RHP Jack Little (3-1, 1.42 ERA) out of the bullpen for his sixth save. Throwing just 11 pitches, and 10 for strikes, Little pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings and now has 22 saves for his career, the third most in program history. “It’s always fun when you get to go out there for more than one inning,” Little said.
“Having Little in the back end always makes you a better coach,” Esquer added.
Freshman infielder Brandon Dieter entered in the top of the ninth inning as a defensive substitute, replacing senior third baseman Nick Bellafronto.
The game was the Cardinal’s shortest of the season, lasting just two hours and 12 minutes.
The Cardinal will host No. 1 UCLA (21-5, 7-2 Pac-12) over the weekend for a three game series.