Following the departure of eight critical players from last year’s roster, Stanford baseball will need contributions from its 12 freshmen. Head Coach David Esquer ’87 has described the Cardinal as having a lot of talent and that they are going to have to bring it along.
On Saturday afternoon at Klein Field, Esquer’s freshmen brought it. Stanford (2-8, 0-0 Pac-12) edged out Grand Canyon University (6-4, 0-0 WAC) 3-2 in a hard-fought win at Sunken Diamond.
After a tough loss Friday night, in a game that lasted 18 innings, the Cardinal gave rest to many of their starters on Saturday. As a result, they started eight freshmen, who accounted for all of the Cardinal runs.
“Give our players a lot of credit,” Esquer said. “We had to try some new blood, new energy, and see if they can give us a lift, and I thought they did today.”
Freshman LHP Quinn Mathews gave Stanford a quality start with his best performance of the season thus far. After allowing a run in the top of the first, Mathews settled down. He pitched into the sixth, going 5.2 innings with three strikeouts and the lone run in the first allowed. He was given a no decision.
“[Mathews] got some big outs with his changeup as much as his fastball,” Esquer said. “He is developing and getting more comfortable each time he gets out on the mound.”
In the bottom of the third, Stanford was able to get its first baserunner of the game in freshman catcher Kody Huff, who led off the inning by reaching on an error. A sacrifice bunt from freshman infielder Adam Crampton moved Huff to second base. Freshman outfielder Owen Cobb stepped up to the plate with two outs and tied the game at one with a clutch double to left.
Mathews opened up the sixth inning with a flyout and a strikeout. He then walked a batter who advanced to third on the next at-bat after an error. Mathews was pulled for fellow freshman RHP Max Meier, who forced an inning-ending ground out. Meier ended up pitching 1.1 innings in relief, striking out one and being credited with his first win of the season.
After the seventh inning stretch, freshman outfielder Brock Jones gave the Cardinal a 2-1 lead with a leadoff home run to right center, his first of the season. In the eighth inning, Jones came through for Stanford again, this time with a RBI double, to extend the lead to 3-1.
“We have typically used [Jones] at the top of the lineup, but I wanted to give him five hitters to watch before getting his first at bat considering he has such great make up,” Esquer said. “It took some pressure off him and it definitely helped us win today.”
GCU opened up the top of the ninth with a strike out and a ground out. The Antelopes then got three straight singles, cutting Stanford’s lead to 3-2. Senior RHP Zach Grech came in and snuffed out any chance of a comeback, striking out the next batter looking to win the game and earn the save.
The baseball team is back in action Sunday afternoon for the series finale at 1 p.m. PT at Klein Field.