It’s always Fullerton, isn’t it? For two straight years, Fullerton has been the thorn in Stanford’s side in its regional, last year beating the Cardinal twice to eliminate them from the postseason and this year handing Stanford its first loss of the regional on Saturday night. And the loss came about in a particularly painful…
Freshman outfielder Christian Robinson’s walkoff RBI double in the bottom of the 13th inning sealed first-seeded Stanford baseball’s (45-10) 4-3 victory over fourth-seeded Wright State (39-16) on Friday night in Sunken Diamond.
The Cardinal will next face third-seeded Cal State Fullerton, which defeated second-seeded Baylor 6-2 earlier on Friday.
Coming off their first conference title since 2004, the Stanford Cardinal (44-10, 22-8 Pac-12) will host their 17th NCAA regional this weekend. With their dominant pitching and high-scoring offense, the Cardinal have had, in Year 1 of head coach David Esquer’s tenure, one of the program’s best seasons in recent years, ultimately earning them the No. 2 national seed in the tournament. Yet the road only gets more difficult from here: The Stanford Regional is arguably one of the most competitive in the entire tournament, as it includes red-hot Big 12 champ Baylor, powerhouse and rival Cal State Fullerton and one of the best four-seeds in the tournament, Wright State.
We asked Daily managing editor of sports Jose Saldana, Stanford insiders R.J. Abeytia (The Bootleg) and Jacob Rayburn (Cardinal Sports Report) to reflect on the Cardinal’s trajectory going into the postseason, what’s different from last year and the team’s prospects for advancing to Omaha.
Beau Branton’s breakout season wasn’t supposed to happen.
First-team All-Pac-12 second baseman Duke Kinamon was slotted in to play second this year — until he went down with a groin injury in warmups minutes before the first pitch of the season. Even then, Jesse Kuet got the first crack at taking Kinamon’s place.
But not the last.
The last time David Esquer was in a Stanford baseball uniform before 2018, he was celebrating the first national title in the program’s history — as a player.
Thirty-one years later, Esquer dons the uniform again, but this time, as the first-year head coach of his alma mater. He will try to end this season as he did in his final start of his career — with a championship.
The first-seeded Cardinal (44-10) begin their postseason quest when they host fourth-seeded Wright State (39-15) in the first round of the NCAA Stanford Regional tonight at 7 p.m. at Sunken Diamond.
Coming into the weekend series against Washington (30-23, 20-10 Pac-12), No. 3 Stanford baseball (44-10, 22-8) had the magic number of one in order to clinch the Pac-12 championship.
Easy, right? Not exactly.
The Huskies, who needed wins to make the postseason, seemed the better team for 26.0 innings, taking the first two games of the series. A sweep at the hands of Washington would mean that the Cardinal would have to share the Pac-12 title with the Huskies.
Down 5-3 with three outs left, Stanford and sophomore designated hitter Will Matthiessen had other plans.
It has been 14 years since No. 3 Stanford baseball (43-8, 21-6 Pac-12) were crowned Pac-12 Championships. Back then, would-be MLB players Jed Lowrie and Sam Fuld roamed sunkissed lawn of Sunken Diamond.
14 years of coming up short in the regular season. All those ghosts on the diamond who tried their damndest to win a conference title can be appeased when the Cardinal travel to the Evergreen State to play Washington (28-22, 18-9) in their final series of the season.
For the second year in a row, No. 3 Stanford (40-8) completed its midweek-game slate undefeated, sealing a 9-0 record in such contests with a 5-1 victory Tuesday afternoon at home against BYU (21-26).