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Baseball handles Santa Clara without issue

Freshman RHP Alex Williams (above) struck out a career-high six batters in 7.0 innings pitched, the most of his collegiate career. Williams allowed no walks and one run on two hits in Stanford's 7-1 victory at Santa Clara Tuesday night. (BOB DREBIN/isiphotos.com)

No. 2 Stanford (32-7, 15-3 Pac-12) traveled to Santa Clara (10-32, 3-15 WCC) on Tuesday, and for the sixth consecutive contest in the all-time series came away with a victory to the tune of 7-1.

Freshman RHP Alex Williams (5-1, 2.79 ERA) threw a career-best 7.0 innings, striking out six without issuing a single free pass. The singular run scored on just two hits, and Williams faced just one more than the minimum with the help of a double play turned by redshirt junior Duke Kinamon (.296/.342/.444).

“What a great performance from Williams tonight when we really needed it,” said Stanford head coach David Esquer. “These are the types of performances that really help a pitching staff at this stage in the season.”

Once again batting leadoff for Stanford, junior center fielder Kyle Stowers (.273/.355/.477) jump started the offense with a single and two steals. After being hit by a pitch, senior left fielder Brandon Wulff (.302/.442/.721) was active on the basepaths as well, stealing second. On the play, Stowers came home for the first Cardinal run. Stanford stole four bases in the game, all in the first inning.

In the third inning, the Cardinal broke out the long ball. Wulff brought home junior catcher Maverick Handley (.298/.393/.450) with his 16th home run of the year, and inched his way into a tie for ninth place among Division 1 players.

The next inning, redshirt junior third baseman Nick Bellafronto (.270/.394/.473) doubled. He was brought around by the second Cardinal home run which came off the bat of Stowers. “The home run ball continues to be big for us,” Esquer said. “We’ve got to find ways to keep producing runs as the games go on.”

Stanford has hit 39 home runs in the last 15 games, with multiple homers in 13 of those contests.

Sanford extended its lead with two more runs in the fifth. Wulff walked and junior DH Will Matthiessen (.366/.449/.599), the second consecutive Cardinal to be named Pac-12 Player of the Week, reached on an error. After a wild pitch advanced both runners into scoring position, junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach (.317/.399/.576) hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Wulff. Matthiessen, who advanced to third on the flyout, scored soon after on a passed ball.

Santa Clara answered with its only run in the bottom half of the fifth, as Ryan McCarthy took Williams deep. McCarthy had the only two Broncos hits until the ninth inning, when Allie singled off of freshman RHP Cody Jensen (1-0, 2.08 ERA). Sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 5.49 ERA) worked the eighth inning, striking out two as he retired the side in order.

Stanford was quiet after the fifth inning, registering just one more hit as four members of the Santa Clara pitching staff shut down the bats with six strikeouts and no walks.  

Santa Clara head coach Rusty Filter was an associate head coach at Stanford (2010-17) under Mark Marquess, who retired after 41 years at the head of Cardinal baseball. When Stanford travels to USC (19-22-1, 8-9-1 Pac-12) this weekend, Esquer will meet his old pitching coach from Cal, Dan Hubbs.

With Stanford’s lead in the Pac-12 down to a single game, Esquer said, “USC will be a tough test on the road this weekend, as are all series in this conference.”

Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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