No. 5 Stanford (24-5, 10-2 Pac-12) completed a three-game sweep of Washington (15-15, 5-10 Pac-12) with a 6-1 victory on Sunday.
“It was a good bounce-back week for us,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “Our pitching and defense really carried us all week.”
On Friday, the reigning Pac-12 pitcher of the week, sophomore Brendan Beck (2-2, 1.98 ERA) took the mound for the Cardinal and delivered another brilliant performance. Beck tossed six innings, allowing three hits, an earned run and a walk while striking out six.
Although Stanford surrendered a leadoff solo homer in the second inning, the Cardinal responded with a run of their own in the bottom half.
“We answered back the one time they landed a punch on us with the home run,” Esquer said.
Washington received nearly all of its offensive production from the bottom third of the lineup, which accounted for six of the Huskies’ nine hits.
The biggest inning for the Cardinal came in the fourth when they put up a four spot. Junior center fielder Kyle Stowers (.267/.346/.456), junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach (.291/.375/.456) and junior second baseman Duke Kinamon (.290/.347/.333) each went 2-4 to lead the charge. Stowers and Kinamon were active on the base paths as well, with the second baseman snagging two.
“It’s fun to run around a little on the base paths,” Kinamon said.
Receiving the Saturday start, the first of his career in a weekend series, junior RHP Will Matthiessen (2-1, 4.03 ERA) struck out the first seven batters of the game to set a new career high.
“The nerves were there a little bit more than usual, and the adrenaline was pumping,” Matthiessen said.
Matthiessen would add two more strikeouts and match a career high 4.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and a walk. The nine strikeouts are tied for the second-most by a Cardinal pitcher this season.
“I don’t think I’ve ever struck out nine people,” Matthiessen said. “That was fun.”
Junior catcher Maverick Handley (.281/.368/.386) and Matthiessen (.356/.434/.548) recorded five of the Cardinal’s six hits to lead the offense, which scored all of its runs in the first three innings. Matthiesen finished 2-3 with a walk as he continues to pace the team in batting average, on base percentage, doubles and RBI.
Sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 5.24 ERA) relieved Matthiesen in the top of the fifth and pitched 3.0 innings of one-hit baseball, adding two strikeouts. Junior RHP Jack Little (3-1, 1.96 ERA) was clean in two innings of work for his seventh save of the season.
On his birthday, Esquer was happy that the Cardinal once again proved to be able to win in a variety of ways. “We’re not just going to club people to death, and we’re not going just going to be able to hold people down to two runs or less,” Esquer said.
On Sunday, however, the Cardinal were firing on all cylinders. Junior LHP Erik Miller (4-0, 2.43 ERA) scattered four hits and three walks while striking out eight.
Stowers hit his first leadoff home run in his fourth game in the role on Josh Burgmann’s (3-2, 2.62 ERA) very first pitch of the day to put the Cardinal on the board in the first inning.
“We need to get Stowers going,” Esquer said. “We’re not going to be the team we need to be unless we get him going.”
Daschbach singled in a run later in the inning, and Stanford entered the second inning with a two-run lead for the second consecutive game.
Miller ran into some trouble in the second, but stranded runners on second and third with a pair of strikeouts. After leaving two more runners on base in the third, Miller settled in and recorded five consecutive outs before he was relieved by freshman RHP Cody Jensen (1-0, 1.50 ERA).
The rest of Stanford’s damage came in the fifth inning. Handley singled to chase Burgmann, who was replaced by Chris Micheles. After a Wulff walk, Matthiessen singled to score both with the help of an error by the left fielder. Daschbach singled to plate Matthiessen, and sophomore shortstop Tim Tawa (.241/.273/.420) squared to bunt and was aboard. Sophomore Nick Brueser hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Daschbach, but that proved to be the final run in the Cardinal rally.
Jensen tossed a single frame with one hit and two strikeouts, then handed the ball over to sophomore LHP Austin Weiermiller (5-0, 1.37 ERA) for the final three frames. Although he allowed a run to score on a double and a single in the eighth inning, Weiermiller was otherwise solid in 3.0 innings, striking out a trio and allowing for hits for his first career save.
Matthiesen led the Cardinal with three hits in four at bats, with four teammates right behind him at two hits apiece, including Daschbach and his two RBIs.
“We will be tested with a lot of Pac-12 road games to go,” Esquer said. “We play in a very tough conference and the mark of a great team is being able to win on the road.”
Stanford will head up to Oregon (21-13, 7-5 Pac-12) next weekend to continue conference play, but will first host UC Davis (10-18, 3-6 Big West) on Tuesday.