Looking to avenge one of just three Pac-12 series losses last season, No. 5 Stanford (21-5, 7-2 Pac-12) welcomes Washington (15-12, 5-7 Pac-12) to Sunken Diamond this weekend. The Huskies nearly swept the Cardinal a year ago to claim the Pac-12 crown in the season’s final weekend, but Stanford rallied with three runs in the ninth inning of the series finale.
The Huskies have won four of the last five series, including last year’s three-game set with the Pac-12 title on the line, and under head coach Lindsay Meggs, are 14-13 against the Cardinal. In the all-time series, which dates back to 1912, Stanford leads 56-28.
This season, Washington opened conference play with series wins over Oregon (19-12, 5-4 Pac-12) and USC (13-18, 5-7 Pac-12), but lost a midweek match up to Gonzaga (14-14, 7-5 WCC) and were swept by No. 4 Oregon State (23-7-1, 9-3 Pac-12) and Arizona (17-14, 5-7 Pac-12). In their last game, Washington snapped the seven game losing streak with a win over Cal Baptist (20-12, 5-4).
Stanford is also coming off a hiccup in conference play, losing its first Pac-12 series of the season to No. 1 UCLA (24-6, 9-3 Pac-12) this past weekend.
Washington is lead by catcher Nick Kahle in batting average (.420), slugging percentage (.682), on-base percentage (.561), RBI (32), home runs (6) and walks (29). Kahle was named to the Golden Spikes midseason watch list, awarded annually to the top amateur baseball player in the country.
The Huskies’ Braiden Ward, who leads the Pac-12 in stolen bases with 18, will match up against the arm of junior catcher Maverick Handley, who has thrown out five of 12 potential base stealers. As a team, Washington is 26-30 in stolen base attempts compared to opponents’ 6-16.
Although Handley’s reached-base streak came to an end after 24 games on Saturday, he quickly got back to work on Sunday with a double and a team-leading 20th run, and Stanford’s record now stands at 77-18 when he starts behind the dish.
Washington enters the week with a 3.91 team ERA, which ranks fourth in the conference behind Stanford’s 2.84, which is seventh in the nation. Stanford is also tops in the Pac-12 in fewest errors (19) and fielding percentage (.980), the nation’s eighth best rate.
Stanford’s offense has been paced by junior DH Will Matthiessen, who enters the weekend riding a 13-game reached-base streak, leads the Cardinal in batting average (.344), slugging percentage (.559), on-base percentage (.427), total bases (52), RBI (27) and doubles (8). Recently, junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach has caught fire to lead the Cardinal in batting average (.432), slugging percentage (.676), on-base percentage (.475) and total bases (25) in Pac-12 play.
Stanford will likely start the reigning Pac-12 pitcher of the week, sophomore Brendan Beck (1-2, 2.05 ERA), on Friday night. Beck struck out five in 7.1 scoreless innings, reaching 6.0 innings for the fifth time in seven starts.
With sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 5.74 ERA), a Freshman All-American a season ago, returning to the bullpen during Tuesday’s midweek win over San Francisco (18-14, 7-5 WCC), Esquer will need to reshuffle his weekend rotation. Junior RHP Jack Little (3-1, 2.14 ERA), whose six saves ranks second in the Pac-12, will be available out of the bullpen.
Washington’s rotation has consisted of David Rhodes (4-3, 2.72 ERA), Jordan Jones (2-3, 5.40 ERA) and the Huskies’ second contribution to the Golden Spikes watch list, Josh Burgmann (3-1, 2.29 ERA) on Sunday.
The first two games of the series are set for a first pitch at 7:05 p.m. PST and Sunday’s potential rubber match will start at 2:05 p.m. PST.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.