By Jeremy Rubin
More than a month into the season, Stanford baseball (16-5, 4-2 Pac-12) has yet to lose a weekend series. For the fourth straight weekend, however, the team was unable to bring out the brooms and complete the sweep. The Cardinal took the first two in Pullman against Pac-12 foe Washington State (13-10, 2-7 Pac-12) before dropping the finale in the 10th inning.
All went well for the Cardinal in the series opener on Friday. The team ran its best offensive performance of the season on Friday with 22 hits and 18 runs. Every Stanford starter had at least one hit and seven had multi-hit games, led by sophomore center fielder Brock Jones’s 4-5 performance. Jones connected for a grand slam in the eighth as a part of the 11 runs Stanford piled on from the seventh inning onward.
Jones’s sophomore classmates, shortstop Adam Crampton and left fielder Henry Gargus, each hit their first career home runs en route to a 3-6 afternoon with four runs batted in for Crampton and a 2-4 performance for Gargus.
On the mound, senior RHP Brendan Beck (4-0) did what he’s been doing all season, firing eight innings of three-run ball while striking out seven. The win lowered Beck’s ERA to 3.63 and dropped his batting average against to .186, the lowest of all Cardinal pitchers with at least one start.
A 1-2-3 inning from freshman RHP Tommy O’Rourke in the ninth finished off a dominant 18-3 win to begin the series.
Sophomore LHP Quinn Mathews got the ball in game two on Saturday, and immediately faced a jam in the bottom of the first. A home run by the Cougars’ two-hitter Kyle Manzardo gave the team a 1-0 lead, but the inning’s damage was not over. Three Stanford errors extended the frame and allowed two additional Washington State runs to score before Mathews was able to record the third out.
Once the defense settled down, Mathews found his groove, pitching long enough to see his team score two in the fourth and fifth. A bases-loaded walk from senior right fielder Christian Robinson and a Crampton single led to the pair of runs in the fourth inning, and Jones knocked in Gargus on a home run in the fifth — his second in as many days — as the Cardinal took a 4-3 lead.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Mathews was replaced by freshman RHP Brandt Pancer after a leadoff walk to begin the sixth. Pancer recorded one out before allowing a single and walk of his own to load the bases. After a Cougars sacrifice fly to even the score at 4-4, head coach David Esquer ’87 turned to O’Rourke for a second-straight day, who struck out Manzardo to end the frame.
Freshman LHP Ryan Bruno was called upon in the seventh and allowed two straight batters to reach base before ceding the ball to fifth-year RHP Zach Grech (4-2), who escaped the inning but not before giving Washington State a 5-4 advantage.
That Cougars lead would hold until the top of the ninth, where Crampton began the inning with a single to left. After a sacrifice bunt from junior third baseman Austin Kretzschmar, who was pinch-hitting for freshman Drew Bowser, a single from senior center fielder Tim Tawa scored Crampton from second to tie the game at five apiece.
Freshman second baseman Tommy Troy then stepped in for his first at-bat of the game, and submitted his candidacy for at-bat of the year. He won an 11-pitch battle, sending the final pitch he saw over the left field fence for his third home run of the season, giving Stanford a 7-5 lead.
Grech, who had already pitched a scoreless eighth, sent the Cougars down to preserve the two-run lead.
In the series finale on Sunday, despite picking up another 10 hits and scoring nine runs, the Cardinal was unable to get timely hits when needed. Stanford stranded 20 runners on base and was held to just one run over the final five frames as the Cougars walked off with a 10-9 win.
Stanford had four-straight two-run innings from the second to the fifth to build up an 8-3 lead entering the bottom of the fifth and was well on its way to a series sweep, when the wheels fell off the bus.
Pancer, who had entered the game following two-plus innings of two-run ball from freshman LHP Drew Dowd to start the game, gave up a double and a walk after recording the first out of the fifth. The at-bats prompted Esquer to turn to senior LHP Austin Weiermiller.
Weiermiller struggled in relief, failing to record an out, allowing both inherited runs to score and giving up three more on a walk and three-straight singles. Junior RHP Alex Williams was then called upon but could not find the zone, walking in a run on three-straight base-on-balls before recording the final out. When the Cardinal returned to the dugout, its 8-3 lead had disappeared — instead it was a brand-new ballgame, tied 8-8.
From there just three runners on either side would cross the plate, the last of which came in the bottom of the 10th off a Grech hit-by-pitch. Grech was saddled with the loss while on the mound for his third inning of work for the second straight day.
On the offensive side, Stanford was walked 15 times — Jones led the way with four himself — and had baserunners in every single inning. Crampton finished with another multi-hit game, while Tawa hit home run number four on the season.
Stanford will next welcome Cal to the Farm on Tuesday for a non-conference matchup beginning at 6:05 p.m. PT. Following that Bay Area rivalry game, the Cardinal kicks off a three-game series against UCLA on Friday, with first pitch scheduled for 2:05 p.m. PT at Sunken Diamond.