Baseball: Stanford wins midweek game against Santa Clara

March 2, 2011, 3:03 a.m.

Highly-touted freshman pitcher A.J. Vanegas made the most out of his first start in Cardinal, securing an 8-4 win for No. 9 Stanford over Santa Clara and allowing just one run in four innings.

With solid hitting by sophomores Jake Stewart and Kenny Diekroeger, the win moved the Cardinal to 5-3 in its rigorous early-season schedule.

Baseball: Stanford wins midweek game against Santa Clara
Sophomore leftfielder Tyler Gaffney, above, had two hits, two RBI and two runs scored in yesterday's win over Santa Clara (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily)

After seven games against Rice, California and Vanderbilt—all ranked teams—Stanford took advantage of the less challenging weekday matchup to improve its record before setting out on a three-game weekend series at No. 6 Texas.

Santa Clara got on the board early, capitalizing on first-inning mistakes by Vanegas, who had difficulty controlling his off-speed pitches. Bronco leadoff hitter Zach Looney was hit by a 2-2 pitch and advanced to second on a poorly-thrown pickoff before scoring on a Jake DeMerritt single.

“It was a great opportunity for me to get my first start, and hopefully, I’ll get more in the future,” Vanegas said. “I wanted to go out there with a calm attitude, but I was really excited to get the first start, and I’m excited that it went well.”

Vanegas got out of the inning by striking out Pat Stover, the first of four punch-outs for the right-hander.

Stanford responded with a three-run first, benefitting from two wild pitches by Santa Clara starter Joe Supple and making the most of a double by Diekroeger.

Supple had a hard time settling down, allowing five hits in 2.1 innings before being pulled. Vanegas, on the other hand, got into stride quickly, retiring eight straight batters in the middle of his outing.

“It’s awesome [to get the win],” he said. “It’s what you want to do—win games and put your team in a good position to win.”

The freshman’s success will continue to be crucial for the Cardinal, which lost junior starter Brett Mooneyham to a hurt finger for the rest of the season.

“We’ll get Vanegas in,” said head coach, Mark Marquess. “I don’t know if he’ll be starting, but he’ll play a critical role for us coming out of the bullpen or whatever we might want him to do.”

After two scoreless innings, the Cardinal exploded with two straight left-field doubles in the fourth by Stewart and sophomore leftfielder Tyler Gaffney. Diekroeger followed with his third hit of the night, capping a four-run frame. Stewart, Gaffney and Diekroeger combined for seven hits, five runs and six RBI.

The sophomore trio seems to be benefiting from experience during their second year on the Farm.

“Last year, you’re coming in as a freshman, and you’re a little tense,” Stewart said. “I think this year just having a year of experience under my belt helps me. I’m so much more relaxed up there.”

Even with strong winds building out to right field, Stanford continued to pound the ball into the left-field corner; senior Zach Jones tripled down the foul line in the seventh and came home on a sacrifice fly by Stewart for Stanford’s eighth run.

Santa Clara got one run off junior reliever A.J. Talt in the fifth to make the score 7-2, but the Broncos stranded runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth innings. Facing junior lefthander Scott Snodgress Santa Clara stuck around with two runs on tough infield plays in the seventh frame.

Things got scarier for Stanford in the eighth, when Santa Clara loaded the bases and Lucas Herbst got a hold of an 0-1 pitch, but the blast was well right of the first-base foul line. Snodgress would strike Herbst out and get DeMerritt to fly out to end the inning.

A 1-2-3 ninth frame sealed the deal for the Card.

“We got some good pitching,” Marquess said. “Vanegas got some good innings…and Snodress and [junior Chris] Reed were there when we needed them out of the pen, and they’ll be ready for the weekend.”

The Cardinal now heads to Austin to face Texas in a three-game series. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 1 p.m., in yet another series against a top-20 team—Stanford’s third of the year.

“I think it’s really good for our team,” Stewart said. “We come out, get contested early and get contested often.

“We looked online, and all 10 [Pac-10] teams are in the top-15 in strength of schedule. It’s great that we come out and play teams like Vanderbilt and Rice and Texas away to get us ready for our Pac-10 schedule,” he added.

Sophomore Mark Appel, who lost a close series opener against Vanderbilt last week, is slated to start for Stanford on Friday.


Joseph Beyda is the editor in chief of The Stanford Daily. Previously he has worked as the executive editor, webmaster, football editor, a sports desk editor, the paper's summer managing editor and a beat reporter for football, baseball and women's soccer. He co-authored The Daily's recent football book, "Rags to Roses," and covered the soccer team's national title run for the New York Times. Joseph is a senior from Cupertino, Calif. majoring in Electrical Engineering. To contact him, please email jbeyda "at"

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