By Jeremy Rubin
Timely hitting and clutch pitching have carried Stanford (5-1, 0-0 Pac-12) through two games against the University of San Francisco (4-6, 0-0 WCC). The Cardinal picked up two late-inning wins 7-6 and 3-2 on Thursday and Friday at Sunken Diamond, the first half of a four-game series.
The wins were head coach David Esquer’s 100th and 101st with the program.
The Thursday game took ten innings to complete, but a single from senior right fielder Christian Robinson scored sophomore catcher Kody Huff from second in walk-off fashion. Huff singled to start the inning and had advanced to second on an error.
Senior RHP Brendan Beck (1-0) started the game on the bump for Stanford and traded zeros with Dons’ starter Josh Mollerus through three innings, but a three-run fourth punctuated by a triple from Dons’ outfielder Nick Yovetich and a small-ball run in the fifth put the Cardinal in an early 4-0 deficit.
Stanford fought back in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases via walks and a hit-by-pitch for sophomore left fielder Brock Jones, who doubled down the right field line to score a pair. Two pitches later, Huff singled to score another two and tie the game up at four.
Beck was pulled in the sixth after allowing a baserunner, as senior LHP Austin Weiermiller was called into the game. He escaped from the inning but not before allowing the running to score, giving Beck a total of five earned runs on the night. Weiermiller also pitched a scoreless seventh in relief.
In the bottom of the inning with Stanford trailing 5-4, sophomore third baseman Brett Barrera sent the first pitch he saw over the fence in left center for his second home run of the season.
Fifth year RHP Zach Grech entered the game for the Cardinal on the mound to replace Weiermiller. He pitched the next three innings, allowing a run in the eighth but otherwise shutting down the Dons offense.
From there, the heroics started for Stanford. Down to the team’s final out in the ninth, senior center fielder Tim Tawa’s RBI single to center sent the game to extra innings, where Robinson and Huff took care of business to send the Cardinal home victorious.
Jones, Huff, Robinson and Barrera each finished with multi-hit games as Grech moved to 2-0 on the season.
The next day, the two teams again traded blows, until Tawa stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with the score knotted at two apiece. Freshman third baseman Tommy Troy stood on first, having led off the inning with a single. Tawa then proceeded to rip a 1-0 curveball from Dons’ pitcher Jesse Barron down the left field line for a double, scoring Troy from first.
Troy and Tawa, batting first and second in the order, finished the game a combined 6-8 with three hits each.
The duo was in the middle of Stanford’s first two scores in the bottom of the third, as well. Sophomore shortstop Adam Crampton led off the inning with a double and scored on another from Troy one batter later. After Tawa bunted for a hit to move Troy to third, a Jones sac fly plated the Cardinal’s second run of the game.
Starting pitcher sophomore LHP Quinn Mathews (1-0) was dominant through six innings on the mound for the Cardinal, allowing just three baserunners while striking out four. However, a single and home run in quick succession with one out in the seventh ended Mathews’ stellar day and cost him the win as he left in a tied 2-2 game.
Freshman RHP Brandt Pancer replaced Mathews, finishing the seventh but leaving in the eighth with men on second and third with just one out in the still-tied 2-2 game.
Esquer turned to Weiermiller for a second straight day to get out of the jam. Weiermiller induced a pop up and strikeout escape in the eighth, and then finished off the ninth to earn his first win of the season. In his collective 1.2 innings of hitless work, Weiermiller finished with three strikeouts in just 23 pitches to clinch Stanford’s second win in as many days.
The team will travel to Benedetti Diamond for the back end of the four-game series. First pitch for Saturday’s game is 2 p.m. PT, while Sunday’s will start one hour earlier at 1 p.m. PT.