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Baseball bounces back behind explosive offense

Stanford secures 11-1 victory over San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon

Junior DH Will Matthiessen (above) opened the scoring sheet for the Cardinal, recording a solo home run in the second. Stanford improved to 21-5 with Tuesday's 11-1 victory against the San Francisco Dons. (JOHN P. LOZANO)

Falling to No. 5 in the polls after a series loss to No. 1 UCLA, Stanford (21-5, 7-2 Pac-12) responded with a resounding 11-1 victory over San Francisco (18-14, 7-5 WCC) on Tuesday. This was the 25th-straight midweek win for the Cardinal.

“This was a great bounce-back win for our guys and a lot of people stepped up today,” said Stanford head coach David Esquer. “Last weekend was a big test for us, and today showed that our guys are ready for whatever’s out there.”

After Stanford’s freshman RHP Alex Williams (3-0, 2.16 ERA) set the Dons down in order in the bottom of the first inning, junior DH Will Matthiesen (.344/.427/.559) sent the first pitch of the second inning over the left field wall for the first Cardinal run.

The Cardinal were not done yet. Senior first baseman Andrew Daschbach was hit by a pitch, redshirt junior Duke Kinamon singled, and sophomore right fielder Nick Brueser walked to load the bases. Redshirt junior third baseman Nick Bellafronto hit a sacrifice fly to end a streak of nine Stanford runs scored via a home run. Junior center fielder Kyle Stowers brought the inning’s run total to four with a two-out two-RBI single. USF’s starter, Josh Mollerus was taken out after 2.0 innings.

Williams allowed his only run of the day on a double from Nick Yovetich after allowing a pair of one-out singles. In his fourth career start, the freshman recorded the win and struck out three in 5.0 innings, allowing five hits and two walks.

After watching his batting average fall to .183 before the start of Pac-12 play, sophomore Tim Tawa (.245/.273/.441) has tallied four home runs in the last seven games. The hot streak continued on Tuesday, with a leadoff double in the fourth, a steal of third, and a double steal resulting in a run scored. Bellafronto walked and Stowers sent one out of the park to center, and the Cardinal added a three spot.

Stanford hit multiple home runs for the sixth time this season. “Will Matthiessen got us started with a home run, Kyle Stowers kept it going with another and we just never let up,” Esquer said.

Stanford put up its second four-run inning of the afternoon in the fifth inning off Ryan Hecker, beginning with a leadoff walk from senior outfielder Brandon Wulff (.253/.383/.534). Matthiesen singled to score Wulff, who advanced on a wild pitch, and Tawa reached base on a walk. Kinamon singled to plate Matthiessen and chase Hecker.

Benji Post hit Brueser, his first batter faced, and Bellafronto hit a bases-loaded double to plate two. Despite a Stowers walk, the Dons escaped after junior catcher Maverick Handley (.255/.358/.363) hit into a double play.

Sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 5.74 ERA), pitching out of the bullpen for the first time this season, found himself in trouble after just two batters, with a double and a single that put runners on the corners with two outs. Two strikeouts and a pop out later, however, Palisch had exited a clean sixth inning. Palisch recorded a 1.72 ERA in 26 appearances last season and was named a Freshman All-American. The sophomore started seven games this season, but after not making it out of the fourth inning the past three and watching his ERA balloon to 5.93, Esquer made the decision over the weekend to reshuffle the starting rotation.

Junior RHP Zach Grech (2-0, 4.05 ERA) pitched a perfect seventh and eighth, and freshman RHP Cody Jensen (1-0, 1.65 ERA) faced the minimum with some help from his middle infield, who recorded a double play to end the game.

Stanford’s leadoff batter recorded a hit in seven of the nine innings. The Cardinal also walked a season-high twelve times, paced by Brueser’s three.

Kasey Koppelmaa came in for the Dons, scattering three hits and five walks for a scoreless 3.1 innings. The biggest of those hits was freshman catcher Vincent Martinez’s first of his career. Joey Steele relieved Koppelmaa with one out in the top of the ninth, recording two outs on a strikeout and a flyout.

The Cardinal return to Sunken Diamond this weekend for a three-game set against Washington (15-12, 5-7 Pac-12).

Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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