With a bases-loaded walk-off single, No. 3 Stanford (27-6, 11-2 Pac-12) completed a come-from-behind victory over Gonzaga (19-16, 12-6 WCC) in a high-scoring 11-10 affair. Redshirt junior third baseman Nick Bellafronto knocked in his third run with his third hit of the afternoon as Stanford plated three runs in the ninth inning.
“I felt like I was able to calm down a lot more this game than I have in the past few games,” Bellafronto said. “I felt like that allowed me to settle in and have a few good swings.”
With the win, Stanford improved to 11-2 in one-run games and secured its fourth walk off victory of the season.
“These guys really have some toughness about them,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “We did this a lot last year and this team has proven they can win in games like this as well. A lot of guys stepped up today.”
“A lot closer than we would have liked, but we’ll take a win any way we can get it,” Bellafronto added.
In his first career start, freshman RHP Cody Jensen (1-0, 1.57 ERA) retired the first six batters before a leadoff triple from Daniel Fredrickson in the third inning. A pinch-hit groundout from Jack Machtolf tallied the run, but that was the only damage suffered in Jensen’s 3.0 innings.
Gonzaga’s starter, RHP Michael Spellacy (2-1, 5.02 ERA), was first touched for a leadoff second-inning home run by junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach (.320/.401/.574), marking his eighth of the season and fourth in the last three games. After an out, redshirt junior second baseman Duke Kinamon (.278/.330/.356) doubled and was knocked in by a single from Bellafronto. Junior center fielder Kyle Stowers (.273/.354/.445) doubled in Bellafronto, and was plated himself by a single from junior catcher Maverick Handley (.303/.394/.447).
With the score 4-1, sophomore RHP Carson Rudd (0-0, 2.04 ERA) entered in the top of the fourth inning and recorded six consecutive outs. Between the two perfect frames, Bellafronto extended the Stanford lead with a solo home run, the first of his career, in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, junior DH Will Matthiessen (.358/.441/.553) singled in Stowers, who had doubled, to bring the Cardinal lead to 6-1. The Bulldogs, however, would score the next nine runs of the game.
“That’s a tough battle to lose, but I’m proud of the resiliency of our guys to come back and take the lead,” Gonzaga head coach Mark Machtolf said. “That’s a game we need to win, and we need to do a better job in the late innings.”
Despite inducing a pop out from the first batter in the sixth inning, Rudd allowed two singles and a hit by pitch in the top of the sixth, forcing sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 5.59 ERA) to relieve him. Rudd allowed just two hits in 2.1 innings, but was charged for two of the three runs that came in with Palisch on the mound.
Palisch entered with the bases loaded, and a single combined with a Bellafronto error at third allowed two runs to score.
“I did everything I could to forget about it because there were three innings left and we were losing, so it wasn’t going to do me any good to sit and dwell on that,” Bellafronto said. “It was good to have a chance to redeem myself for that later in the game.”
Palisch was then bested by Nick Nyquist, whose grand slam cleared the bases. Palisch came back out for the top of the seventh inning, and recorded two quick outs before running into trouble. In 1.1 innings, Palisch was charged with four runs while surrendering five hits and a walk.
With two outs and runners on first and second, junior RHP Zach Grech (2-0, 5.40 ERA) came out of the bullpen. He gave up an RBI single to Nyquist but otherwise held Gonzaga to one run. Nyquist reached five RBI for the second time in the last three games.
After Isaac Barrera reached base with a pinch-hit leadoff single in the top of the eighth inning, Gonzaga manufactured a run with a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single from Ernie Yake. Following a Guthrie Morrison single, Troy Johnson doubled to score Yake and put runners on the corners. Grech was fortunate to escape the jam with two groundouts, and the Cardinal responded with two runs of their own in the bottom half.
Daschbach singled to lead off the inning, and sophomore Nick Brueser became the second Cardinal to hit his first career home run with a 420-foot no doubter. Stanford has now hit multiple homers in eight of its last 10 games.
The most peculiar play of the afternoon followed soon after, when Bellafronto failed to reach base for the only time in the game. A poor throw from the shortstop pulled the first baseman off the bag, but while avoiding the tag, Bellafronto missed the base and was tagged out.
Rebounding after allowing a grand slam in his last outing, freshman RHP Nicolas Lopez (1-0, 15.00 ERA) induced a groundout from the Bulldogs’ grand slam hitter, Nyquist, as part of a perfect ninth inning. Holding Gonzaga scoreless for the first time in four innings, Lopez kept the game within reach and earned his first career win.
“You have to credit Lopez for coming back after a tough outing last weekend and setting us up for the win,” Esquer said.
In the bottom of the ninth, RHP Nick Trogrlic-Iverson (1-2, 5.82 ERA) walked Handley and senior left fielder Brandon Wulff (.288/.437/.667) to put two runners on for Matthiessen. Named the Pac-12 player of the week after a 7-10 performance with four home runs, eight RBIs, nine runs and four walks in a weekend sweep of Oregon, Wulff walked three more times on Monday.
Matthiessen’s flair to right scored Handley and advanced Wulff to third, and the DH was replaced on the basepath by senior outfielder Alec Wilson. Daschbach singled through the left side bringing Wulff in and putting the winning run in scoring position. Brueser then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move both runners over. Kinamon was intentionally walked, as Gonzaga opted to face Bellafronto, who was already 2-3 with a home run, two RBI, and a walk.
Bellafronto redeemed himself of his earlier error and matched his career high in RBIs with a single lined to left. “Bellafronto had a couple plays he would probably like to have back but he came through for us in the end,” Esquer said.
Trogrlic-Iverson, who entered in the seventh inning and was in line for the save, was instead charged with the loss.
Stanford returns to action today against San Jose State (18-22, 12-9 MW) at 6 p.m. PST. Freshman RHP Alex Williams (3-1, 2.48 ERA) is in line to start for the Cardinal.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.