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Esquer emphasizes growth in narrow loss to Santa Clara

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The theme of this Stanford men’s baseball season is going to be growth. Head coach David Esquer ’87 has used the term multiple times in relation to his offense, which he expects to develop over the course of the season. 

And on Tuesday, No. 25 Stanford (1-3, 0-0 Pac-12) grew into its offense over the course of the game. Despite not getting a hit until the fourth inning, the Cardinal eventually tacked on a couple of runs and even staged a brief comeback. 

Santa Clara (5-0, 0-0 WCC), however, jumped out to an early lead and won at home in Stephen Schott Stadium 3-2.

The Broncos issued just two walks all game, but both came around to score. Senior third baseman Nick Bellafronto led off the eighth inning with a free pass and was soon joined by freshman Kody Huff, who made his first start at catcher. In his first at bat, freshman pinch hitter Cole Hinkelman knocked a two-out double down the right field line to score Stanford’s only two runs.

Although the heart of the order came up in the ninth inning, Santa Clara’s Ethan Heinrich was able to retire the side in order for the save. 

Stanford had its five-game midweek streak snapped by the Broncos, a team it beat twice last season. The Cardinal had been unbeatable in midweek games until their streak of 26 consecutive wins dating to 2016 was broken last year by UC Davis.

The pitching duties were shared in what became a staff game. Freshman RHP Max Meier (0-1) made his first career start but did not last long after surrendering a second inning two-run home run to Dawson Brigman.

As expected, senior RHP Zach Grech was a bright spot with three perfect innings. Graduate transfer RHP Jackson Parthasarathy came after and worked himself into trouble with consecutive walks, forcing sophomore RHP Cody Jensen to clean up the jam. Austin Reyes’ sacrifice fly scored a crucial insurance run that became the game-winning run.

Sophomore Brandon Dieter shifted from second base to the mound for a clean seventh inning and freshman RHP Nathan Fleischli sat down the Broncos in order in the bottom of the eighth. 

Esquer continued to experiment with his lineup and 14 field players made their way into the game. Freshman Henry Gargus made his first start in right field.

Stanford will travel to take on Houston in Game 1 of the Round Rock Classic this Friday.

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

Daniel Martinez-Krams '22 is a staff writer in the sports section covering football, women's soccer, women's basketball and baseball. He is originally from Berkeley, California. Contact him at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.