Baseball wins first Pac-12 series against Utah

Cardinal move to 12-3 as hot start continues

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Stanford baseball (12-3, 2-1 Pac 12) opened up conference play this week against Utah at Sunken Diamond. After winning Friday’s contest by a score of 4-2, the Cardinal split the weekend games against the Utes to win its fourth straight series.

On Saturday, the Cardinal struck first in the third inning. Back-to-back hits from freshman second baseman Tommy Troy and senior center fielder Tim Tawa put runners on second and third. A pair of productive outs gave the Cardinal a 2-0 lead. 

Sophomore left-handed pitcher Quinn Matthews got off to a solid start, keeping the Utes scoreless through the first three frames. However, Utah’s offense started to heat up in the fourth. Matthews issued a pair of walks and a single, setting the stage for a three-run triple from junior first baseman Shea Kramer. Junior second baseman Matt Richardson then singled to give Utah a 4-2 lead.

The Cardinal gained some momentum in the middle innings. Sophomore catcher Kody Huff drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. In the sixth, freshman third baseman Drew Bowser evened the score with an RBI single.  However, the Utes took over after the sixth inning.

Utah scored one run in the seventh to take a 5-4 lead before exploding for three runs in the eighth. Utah’s big eighth inning was punctuated by a pinch-hit home run by junior catcher Christopher Rowan Jr.  

In the end, Utah emerged victorious by a score of 8-4. Freshman right-handed pitcher Brandt Pancer received the loss for the Cardinal after giving up a run in the seventh inning.

In the rubber match of the series, Stanford once again scored first. In the third inning, senior center fielder Christian Robinson doubled to right field. Bowser drove him in with a single, giving the Cardinal a 1-0 lead.

Earlier in the third inning, Pancer came in to relieve starting pitcher freshman Drew Dowd. Pancer, fresh off of a loss in Saturday’s game, dominated the Utes on Sunday; he pitched 4.1 innings, giving up just two hits and one run.

Senior first baseman Nick Breuser homered to open up the fifth inning, giving Stanford a 2-1 lead. The Cardinal scored again in the sixth, this time on a passed ball. Then, in the eighth, sophomore left fielder Brock Jones added a home run to stretch the Cardinal lead to three runs.

Stanford then handed the ball to fifth year closer Zach Grech in the bottom of the eighth inning. Grech, who had appeared in eight games prior Sunday’s contest, had not given up an earned run all season. He continued his dominance against the Utes, pitching two innings of nearly flawless relief to earn the save.

Sunday’s 4-1 victory secured the Cardinal’s fourth straight series win to start the season. Next, Stanford will take on CSU Bakersfield (6-5, 3-1 Big West) in a three game homestand starting Mar. 26. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. PT.

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Gavin McDonell is a staff writer in the sports section. He is a freshman from San Francisco, California who is considering a major in Management Science and Engineering or Mathematics. His rooting interests include the San Francisco Giants, the Golden State Warriors, Max Homa and of course, the Stanford Cardinal. Contact him at gmcdonell 'at' stanforddaily.com.