After dropping Game 1, No. 3 Stanford (29-7, 13-3 Pac-12) provided an emphatic Game 2 response with a 13-3 victory against Arizona (19-20, 7-12 Pac-12).
“Tonight was a great answer,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “I thought we did a nice job of consistently scoring runs and holding their offense down in the middle innings.”
Junior RHP Will Matthiessen (4-1, 3.62 ERA) struggled early, conceding a left field double to Matthew Dyer and a triple down the right field line to Austin Wells. Nick Quintana hit an RBI groundout to put the Wildcats up two runs. Matthiessen, however, settled in nicely and pitched a career-high-tying 5.0+ innings, with five strikeouts, two walks and two runs on five hits.
“Will gave us five great innings and our offense coming back with four in the bottom of the first set the tone for the entire game,” Esquer said. “He’s a special player and we’re glad to have him on our side.”
Unlike in Game 1, Stanford did not take long to respond with runs of its own. Senior left fielder Brandon Wulff (.287/.429/.656), who played the national anthem on the piano before the game, walked with two outs and set up a single from Matthiessen (.388/.468/.634) the DH and game-winning pitcher. He finished 3-5 at the plate with three runs.
Junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach (.323/.406/.594) doubled in the pair of runners, and the table was set after sophomore shortstop Tim Tawa (.245/.272/.410) drew a walk. Both runners were brought in by a double down the left field line off the bat of sophomore right fielder Nick Brueser (.274/.415/.452).
The Cardinal added another run in the third when Wulff singled and advanced to third base on a couple of wild pitches. Daschbach walked, but it was Tawa who hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score the run.
After Matthiessen sent the Wildcats down in order for the first time in the fifth, Wulff and Matthiessen singled to chase Andrew Nardi (3-5, 7.63 ERA), who was charged with seven earned runs in 4.1 innings of work. Nardi allowed six hits, issued five walks and recorded a lone strikeout.
Nate Brown (1-0, 9.00 ERA) walked Daschbach, his first batter faced, but struck out Tawa for the second out in the inning. Brown lost Brueser, walking in a run, but the damage came from redshirt junior third baseman Nick Bellafronto (.271/.384/.471). With his second career home run, a 382-foot blast, Bellafronto cleared the bases.
“Bellafronto’s home run was a big separator for us in the fifth,” Esquer said.
Bellafronto, who recorded his first career hit earlier this season in his fourth year with the team, has appeared in 25 games, starting 22 of them. A season ago, he made just one appearance, drawing a walk and scoring a run, but did not always travel with the team.
“He’s been doing a great job in his first opportunity to play full time,” Esquer said. “The players love him, and they all get energized behind him.”
Quintana’s single in the sixth pushed the Cardinal to the bullpen, with the first call to sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 5.63 ERA). After inducing two quick outs, Palisch walked Tony Bullard, a pinch hitter. A popout, however, ended the frame and set up Stanford to make more noise.
Sophomore center fielder Kyle Stowers (.270/.359/.459) led off the inning with a home run, and two outs later, Matthiessen hit his own towering solo shot. The Cardinal added a third run when Tawa’s single brought in Daschbach after his double. In the game, Stanford scored 11 of its 13 runs with two outs.
Palisch allowed two straight singles before striking out Dyer, but then conceded an RBI single to Wells and a walk to Quintana. Junior RHP Zach Grech (2-0, 4.76 ERA) relieved Palisch, inducing an inning-ending double play to escape the jam. Grech came back out for the eighth and scattered a single to finish with 1.2 innings of clean baseball.
“That was the old Grech,” Esquer said. “He went back to his old delivery and his old set.”
Sophomore RHP Carson Rudd (0-0, 1.93 ERA) came in for the ninth, and immediately found himself in trouble. A single and a walk put two runners on, but Daschbach was able to toss a hard hit ground ball over to Rudd at first for the first out. A walk loaded the bases, yet Rudd fielded his position, starting a 1-2-3 double play to escape unscathed and secure the victory.
Opening pitch of the rubber match will come Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PT. Junior LHP Erik Miller (5-0, 2.12 ERA) will start for the Cardinal.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.