No. 4 Stanford (27-6, 11-2 Pac-12) baseball swept Oregon (22-16, 7-8 Pac-12) in a three-game series over the weekend. Midway through the Pac-12 slate, the Cardinal currently sit in first in conference standings.
Senior outfielder Brandon Wulff (.294/.431/.679) hit the first two of his four home runs in the series and redshirt junior infielder Duke Kinamon (.279/.326/.349) added a two-run home run to combine for the Cardinal offense in a series-opening 5-4 Thursday night victory.
“That was a gritty performance from our guys,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “We left a lot of guys on base and got ourselves in some difficult spots, but we stuck with it and got a huge shot in the arm from Wulff.”
The first home run came in the second inning with junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach (.308/.394/.547) standing on second in response to a run allowed by sophomore RHP Brendan Beck (3-2, 2.29 ERA) in the bottom of the first.
“I got a good pitch right away,” Wulff said. “They threw a slider basically down the middle.”
Beck faced more adversity than usual and was tacked by Oregon’s best hitter, Spencer Steer (.357/.466/.552), for a game-tying home run in the third inning. Beck lasted 5.0+ innings to earn the win, but he recorded a season-low one strikeout, allowed a season-high three earned runs on nine hits and did not surpass six innings for just the fourth time all year.
Stanford loaded the bases in the third and fourth innings, but came away with nothing to show for it.
“We had bases loaded a couple of times, but had some unlucky breaks,” Wulff said. “I think we’re going to hit those spots tomorrow.”
After Beck put up a zero in the bottom of the fifth, Wulff sent out a solo shot to left field to start a three-run inning.
“I thought it was going to go farther than that it actually did,” Wulff said. “It felt good.”
Kinamon launched his first home run of the season with two outs to score redshirt junior Nick Bellafronto (.235/.353/.363). Beck came out for the bottom of the sixth, but allowed a leadoff double and was replaced by sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 4.82 ERA). Between a passed ball and a single, the Ducks’ third run came across, but Palisch struck out the side to prevent any more damage.
An error in the seventh inning put a runner on base that eventually came around to score, as Palisch was charged for an unearned run across 2.0 innings of work with three hits and three strikeouts.
“Pac-12 games on the road are never easy and I credit the toughness of this team for making the difference tonight,” Esquer said.
The ball was handed over to the All-American closer, junior RHP Jack Little (3-1, 1.80 ERA), for a six-out save and the door was effectively shut. In 2.0 innings, there were just three strikeouts and one hit on his way to his eighth save.
Although the Cardinal improved to 9-2 in one-run games, the rest of the series would not be as close. In Game 2, the Stanford offense showed up in a big way for a 20-5 series-clinching win.
“This was a great effort by our guys and it was terrific to see a lot of them put it together today,” Esquer said. “It’s been a slow process with getting our guys comfortable at the plate, and that happens sometimes, but they’ve kept at it and it showed today.”
Stanford’s 24 hits and 20 runs were the most since the Cardinal set a program record with 28 and 25 at Utah a season ago. The scoring began early and often, with the first five Stanford batters coming around to score.
Junior catcher Maverick Handley (.297/.387/.438) paced the Cardinal with a career-high four hits, while also scoring three runs and knocking out his first home run of the season. Daschbach also finished 4-5, tying a career high for hits, and added two home runs for four RBI and four runs.
“I did my best Wulff impression,” Daschbach said. “It’s always fun to get a win, especially when you tack some runs on them.”
Wulff stayed hot to hit 3-4 for the second-straight game, with a home run, three RBIs and four runs. Sophomore outfielder Nick Brueser (.286/.431/.367) set a new career-high with three RBIs, going 2-for-5. The trio of Kinamon, sophomore outfielder Kyle Stowers (.267/.352/.429) and sophomore infielder Tim Tawa (.242/.268/.422) all recorded multi-hit games, with each scoring a run.
Junior RHP Will Matthiessen (3-1, 3.62 ERA) earned the win with a career-high 5.0 innings allowing a lone run. Like the rest of the Cardinal hitters, Matthiessen (.356/.443/.559) had a good day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with two runs and three RBI.
Although he was just 1-3, freshman infielder Brandon Dieter (.206/.286/.279) will remember the game as his first home run in a Stanford uniform.
Oregon got its final four runs all at once in the bottom of the eighth as Taylor Adams (.230/.360/.392) took freshman LHP Nicolas Lopez (0-0, 22.50 ERA) deep in his second career appearance for a grand slam.
On Saturday, the Cardinal bid farewell to PK Park with a 10-0 victory.
For the second-straight game, Stanford put up five runs in the first inning. Four different Cardinal hit an RBI, with three on singles, punctuated by Dieter’s two-run, two-out single.
Stanford’s starter, junior LHP Erik Miller (5-0, 2.12 ERA) struck out the first five batter faced before allowing a walk and a single in the bottom of the second inning. He would walk only one other batter and allow just three more hits in 6.0 shutout innings. The strikeout numbers continued to soar, as he finished with a career-high 11, tied for the most by Stanford pitcher this season.
“This was a fantastic performance from Miller,” Esquer said. “He can be dominant when he’s on, and you saw what that looked like today.”
Daschbach hit a solo home run in the third inning for his third of the weekend, bringing his season total to seven. Tawa staged a game-high three RBI on a bases-loaded single that scored Matthiessen and Wulff in the fifth inning to go along with his first inning sacrifice fly.
Junior RHP Zach Grech (2-0, 4.82 ERA) and sophomore LHP Austin Weiermiller (5-0, 1.27 ERA) pitched the final three innings, combining to allow just three hits, with Grech recording both strikeouts.
Wulff’s fourth time reaching base was rather swift. On a 0-1 count with three walks in his first four at-bats as the Ducks pitched to him carefully, Wulff demolished a two-run homer deep into the stratosphere that prompted an “Oh boy!” from the Oregon announcer.
In the series, Wulff was 7-10 with four home runs, eight RBI, nine runs and four walks, while Daschbach finished 6-11 with three home runs, five RBI, seven runs and two walks.
“Wulff and Daschbach really carried us this week. When you want to win on the road you need guys to step up like that,” Esquer said.
Stanford returns to Sunken Diamond on Monday to start a new midweek game winning streak when it hosts Gonzaga (19-16, 12-6 WCC) at 1 p.m. PT and San Jose State (18-22, 12-9 MW) Tuesday at 6 p.m. PT.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.