Responding to a Game 2 pummeling, No. 2 Stanford (36-9, 18-5 Pac-12) quieted the bats of California (29-16, 14-9 Pac-12) for a series-clinching 5-2 Sunday victory in Berkeley. The Cardinal are now in a three-way tie with Oregon State and UCLA for first place in Pac-12 conference standings with two series remaining.
For the first six innings, sophomore shortstop Tim Tawa’s (.247/.280/.412) second inning three-run home run was the difference. Junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach (.296/.387/.556) walked to leadoff the inning, and California’s lone error of the game allowed redshirt junior Duke Kinamon (.314/.349/.518) to reach base ahead of Tawa. With two strikes, Tawa showed bunt but pulled back for a no doubt home run.
Junior LHP Erik Miller (7-1, 2.40 ERA) was the first Cardinal starter to shut down the Bears, tossing 5.2 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, three walks and three hits. California did not manage a hit until the fourth inning, when they were already down by three.
The Cardinal added to the lead in the seventh when sophomore left fielder Kyle Stowers (.290/.364/.519) drove in Tawa with a two-out single. Tawa led off the seventh inning with a double, advanced to third on redshirt junior Nick Bellafronto’s (.267/.402/.467) sacrifice bunt, and came around to score the game’s fourth run. Stowers finished 3-5, and senior right fielder Brandon Wulff was the last Cardinal with a multi-hit game, going 2-5.
California’s starter, Sam Stoutenborough (6-4, 4.04 ERA) was replaced by Rogelio Reyes (4-2, 3.11 ERA) after the bunt, who pitched the final 2.2 innings.
Esquer saved the front end of his bullpen for Sunday, and reaped the benefits. Junior RHP Zach Grech (2-0, 3.73 ERA) induced a ground out for the final out of the sixth inning, then pitched around a bunt single in the seventh.
California was not going to be shut out, however, and answered with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Cameron Eden (.349/.422/.552) singled to chase Grech, who struck out two in 1.1 innings, allowing one run on two hits.
Palisch struck out the only batter he faced, then handed the ball over to the All-American closer, junior Jack Little (3-1, 2.84 ERA) to face the reigning Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Vaughn (.374/.530/.712). Vaughn won the battle, homering to right field. Little, however, retired the next five batters he faced to win the series.
Redshirt junior Duke Kinamon (.314/.349/.518) hit his third home run of the series in the ninth inning as part of a 2-4 outing that saw his average rise to second on the team among qualified batters. Stanford has now hit a home run in 17 of 18 games and 50 in their last 22.
Stanford will host Cal Poly on Tuesday at 6 p.m. PST ahead of a weekend series against No. 12 Oregon State (33-15-1, 19-5 Pac-12) that could determine the fate of conference standings.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.