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Baseball struggles in 18-2 road loss to Cal

“You can get a bloody lip from anyone in this league”

Junior RHP Will Matthiessen (above) was charged with his first weekend loss after allowing four runs in the first and an additional two in the third before exiting. (JOHN P. LOZANO)

No. 2 Stanford (36-9, 18-5 Pac-12) suffered an 18-2 defeat to California (29-16, 14-9 Pac-12) as the rivalry series heads into a Sunday rubber match. The Cardinal have now suffered road defeats on back-to-back weekends for their first two away losses in conference play, falling into a tie for second place in the Pac-12.

“We took a pretty good punch today, but this wasn’t a typical performance from us and I credit their offense for staying on top of us throughout,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “It got away from us when we decided to save the front end of our bullpen for tomorrow, but this is the kind of adversity we need to learn to come back from.”

It was not the outing junior RHP Will Matthiessen (5-2, 4.29) envisioned, as he was tagged for four first-inning runs and was charged for two more in the third after exiting. For the first time in his five starts in the weekend rotation, Matthiessen was charged with a loss.

On the other side, Cal’s Jared Horn (5-1, 1.79 ERA) was brilliant, and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning. Horn exited after 7.0 innings, allowing three hits, three walks, and striking out six Cardinal batters for Cal’s fourth win over a top 10 opponent, and its first at home. The defense behind him played error free, and Cal recorded three double plays, including a final one in the ninth inning to close out the rout.

Sophomore shortstop Tim Tawa (.241/.275/.386) started two double plays, the first with the assistance of redshirt junior Duke Kinamon (.308/.345/.496) and the second unassisted. Tawa also broke the no hitter in the top of the fifth with a two-out single through the left side. He was one of just two Stanford starters, alongside Nick Brueser, to remain in the game when Esquer made wholesale changes.

The bench provided six of Stanford’s eight hits, including a 3-4 line as pinch hitters. The loudest of those hits was redshirt junior pinch hitter Christian Molfetta’s second career home run in the top of the ninth. Freshman third baseman Austin Kretzschmar recorded his first career multi-hit game, with the first coming as a leadoff triple in the eighth.

“They had good at-bats, Molfetta, Kretzschmar, guys that didn’t have a lot of opportunities got a chance to get in there, and they played well,” Esquer said.

Sophomore RHP Carson Rudd (0-0, 3.15 ERA) was the first out of the bullpen for the Cardinal, who reached deep into their arsenal for arms. Rudd was removed after 1.1 innings, in which he allowed four hits, three walks, and three runs before turning the ball over to freshman RHP Cody Jensen (1-0, 3.90). Jensen lasted 1.2 innings, but was charged for six runs on six hits and a walk.

Freshman RHP Brandon Dieter made his first career pitching appearance, striking out one and facing the minimum in 1.1 innings of work. Redshirt sophomore Ben Baggett was the final Cardinal pitcher, surrendering three runs on two hits and a walk.

The Cal leadoff batter reached base in the first six innings and again in the eighth inning as Cardinal pitchers struggled to put batters away. The Bears tallied a season-high 20 hits in just 41 at-bats, and those numbers improved with two outs, 10-17, and with runners in scoring position, 8-13.

“I’ve been in this conference for over 20 years,” Esquer said. “You can get a bloody lip from anyone in this league and Cal’s performance [yesterday] really proved that.”

Cal matched Stanford’s five home runs from the night before, with four different Bears leaving Evans Diamond. Max Flower, Sam Wezniak, John Lagattuta, and Hance Smith went deep, as did Quentin Selma for his third of the series.

“For us to have a rough one yesterday and come back and play the way we did, that was outstanding,” Cal head coach Mike Neu said. “It’s good to see the way our guys came back and responded from a tough loss. I don’t think we could have drew it up much better than we did today.”

Junior LHP Erik Miller (6-1, 2.64 ERA) will start today for the Cardinal as they seek a series win.

“We got Miller and the full bullpen,” Esquer said. “It’s a heck of an offense we have to compete against.”

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

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