The Stanford baseball team opened up its Pac-10 season the right way this past weekend, grabbing the Saturday and Sunday games to secure a series victory over the Washington State Cougars.
The series win was especially critical considering the way the Cardinal (13-7, 2-1 Pac-10) started the weekend, as it blew an eight-run lead and a great pitching performance by sophomore Mark Appel on Friday night to fall to the Cougars (11-12, 1-5).
The Cardinal jumped out to a big lead thanks to a blasted three-run home run from catcher Zach Jones and a solo shot from freshman first baseman Brian Ragira. Appel gave the Card another strong start, blowing away seven batters with a devastating fastball-slider combo.
Appel gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Stanford lead to 8-2 and then exploded on the Cardinal bullpen when Appel’s night was over after he looked to be in line to get the win. Appel gave up only the two runs over seven innings and struck out a career-high of seven batters.
Freshman A.J. Vanegas gave up three straight hits before junior Scott Snodgress relieved him and gave up five runs before he was pulled for junior Chris Reed.
Cougar right fielder Derek Jones, the first batter Reed faced, then connected on a fastball and blasted a three-run home run out to right field, giving the Cougars a 10-8 lead.
The potentially devastating loss didn’t affect the Cardinal for long though, even when it was faced with the added adversity of snowy weather conditions.
A 2 p.m. start was delayed to 5:30 p.m. after rain and snow came down on Bailey-Brayton field, but the Cardinal showed no signs of a hangover when it got on the board early and didn’t stop scoring the entire night.
Another three-run bomb from Jones, his second of the weekend, made the score 9-0 in the second inning, and a colossal grand slam from Ragira made the score 16-1 before a 33-minute snow delay put a break in the action in the top of the fifth.
The snow and the Cougar bullpen didn’t stop the scoring onslaught, as every Cardinal starter recorded a hit. Freshman right fielder Austin Wilson added another three-run dinger over the left-field wall to make the score 21-1, and freshman Lonnie Kauppila went 6-for-6 with a triple and five RBI.
When it was all said and done, Stanford had a 22-3 win, the first time Stanford had scored over 20 runs since 2007.
Not to be overshadowed in the offensive explosion was junior starter Jordan Pries, who did his part to secure the Stanford victory and push his record to 4-1 by giving up only two runs on five hits through seven innings.
With the series on the line on Sunday, the Cardinal turned to sophomore righty Dean McArdle, who delivered another good pitching performance from a starting rotation that lowered its collective ERA to 1.74 this weekend.
The Cougar bullpen was its own worst enemy on Sunday, giving up back-to-back bases-loaded walks to help the Cardinal out to a 4-0 lead through the top of the sixth.
However, the Cougar offense rallied with three runs in the bottom of the sixth due to two fielding errors from sophomore Tyler Gaffney in center field who was forced into the unfamiliar spot in the outfield after typical centerfielder Jake Stewart was scratched from the lineup.
Gaffney’s two gaffes, coupled with two more errors from Kauppila and Snodgress, made things tight going down the stretch, but Reed came in determined to redeem himself and secure the win with the game on the line in the eighth inning.
Reed pitched one and two-thirds innings of flawless baseball to grab his fourth save of the early season and give McArdle a 4-1 record after he went six and two-thirds innings and gave up just four hits and no earned runs. The win was also head coach Mark Marquess’ 1,400th career victory.
The series win was Stanford’s second weekend series victory in a row after knocking off Long Beach State last week, and the two wins leave Stanford in a good position as it primes for a long Pac-10 season that will feature matchups against four top-25 teams.
The Cardinal returns home for a Tuesday matchup against San Jose State at 5:30 p.m. before heading south on its fifth road trip of the season for another Pac-10 series against the USC Trojans.