No. 3 Stanford (29-7, 13-3 Pac-12) could not overcome a season-high four errors in a 6-3 Friday night loss to Arizona (19-20, 7-12 Pac-12). Stanford head coach David Esquer called the errors “a sign of the quality of play tonight.”
“We just have to play better,” Esquer said. “In our league, you can’t make four errors and win many games on Friday night.”
Sophomore RHP Brendan Beck (3-3, 2.52 ERA) lasted 5.2 innings, and was charged with three of the four runs that came in under his watch. He struck out six batters, though he allowed as many hits, and he walked two.
Beck was first beat in the second inning. Dayton Dooney’s leadoff single was followed by a single from Cameron Cannon, and both advanced into scoring position after Stanford’s second error of the game. After a strikeout, Justin Wylie hit a sacrifice fly to plate an unearned run.
“I thought [Beck] did a great job of minimizing and just giving up one,” Esquer said.
Dooney started things off again with a single in the third, and Branden Boissiere doubled in the run.
Stanford responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning, as junior DH Will Matthiessen delivered with his seventh home run of the season.
“Arizona makes you play a different type of game, because they’re offensive, so you have to make pitches and play defense,” Esquer said. “We didn’t do enough of either.”
Matthew Dyer singled, and Nick Quintana followed with a homer to extend the Wildcats’ lead to three in the top of the fifth inning.
The Cardinal put one across the plate in the bottom half, when sophomore shortstop Tim Tawa singled off Wildcats’ starter Randy Labaut (4-3, 5.93 ERA) and advanced to third on a wild pitch and a balk. Redshirt junior second baseman Duke Kinamon managed a sacrifice fly to plate the run.
Stanford inched closer with another RBI from Kinamon. Daschbach and Tawa singled to chase Labaut, who kept the Cardinal in line despite entering the game with an ERA north of six. In 6.1 innings, he allowed five hits and three runs, earning the win. Arizona’s Vince Vanelle faced just two batters, and was replaced by Avery Weems after Kinamon’s two-out single.
The Wildcats, however, pulled away in the eighth. RHP Cody Jensen (1-0, 2.16 ERA) recorded the first two outs quickly, but he was unable to complete a shutdown inning. Two singles and a wild pitch put both Boissiere and Cannon in scoring position. Wylie came through with an RBI single, but was then caught trying to stretch it to a double.
“Three two-out hits in the eighth were the nail in the coffin,” Esquer said.
Jensen returned for the ninth and, after allowing another two-out single, struck out the side. In 2.0 innings, he allowed two runs, four hits, and he struck out three.
Despite two hard line drives off Quinn Flanagan (4-3, 5.53 ERA), Stanford went down in order in the ninth to give Flanagan his first save of the year. In the game, Stanford grounded out just four times, allowing Arizona to make 17 outs in the air.
“We didn’t put a ton of pressure on them, defensively, but I give them credit for pitching a great game,” Esquer said.
It was just the third time all year Stanford dropped a series opener, and the first time in conference play. The Pac-12 makes up the first three spots in the national polls, with the Cardinal just behind No. 1 UCLA (33-7, 13-4 Pac-12) and No. 2 Oregon State (29-10-1, 15-4 Pac-12).
“Top-to-bottom, every game in this conference is going to be tough,” Esquer said. “Every now and then you’re just going to get beat.”