Baseball: Down with the Dons

May 16, 2012, 3:03 a.m.
Baseball: Down with the Dons
First baseman Brian Ragira had a two-out RBI double in the eighth inning, securing the Cardinal's 6-3 victory over San Francisco. (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily)

On Tuesday night, the No. 17 Stanford baseball team came from behind to beat the University of San Francisco, 6-3. However, it was an up-and-down night for the Cardinal, which was outhit by the Dons and left 11 men on base, despite the win.

Stanford (33-14, 14-10 Pac-12) has now won its last four contests, while the Dons, who recorded a sweep over Santa Clara last weekend, fall to 27-29 overall (12-9 West Coast Conference). Freshman David Schmidt, the winning pitcher for Stanford, improved to 3-1 on the season.

Offensively, Stanford got off to a fast start. In the first inning, junior centerfielder Jake Stewart reached on an error, and the next batter, junior leftfielder Tyler Gaffney, walked. Junior third baseman Stephen Piscotty’s base hit loaded the bases with no outs for first baseman Brian Ragira.

Ragira struck out swinging, but the third strike was a wild pitch and Stewart dashed home to score the first run of the day. San Francisco sophomore starter Jordan Remer settled down, limiting the damage to one run. The bottom of the second was similar for the Cardinal, with freshman catcher Wayne Taylor left stranded in scoring position and the score remaining at 1-0.

In the third inning, San Francisco’s offense came to life. Freshman rightfielder Bradley Zimmer led off the inning with a single, and two batters later, junior second baseman Jason Mahood hit a towering home run to left field that put the Dons up 2-1. The next batter, senior first baseman Nik Balog, singled to left. Starter Garrett Hughes, who was having trouble keeping the ball down in the strike zone, was relieved by junior Sahil Bloom, and he escaped the inning without giving up any more runs.

In the bottom of the third, Remer walked Gaffney and Piscotty, putting men on first and second with no outs. Remer was replaced by junior Andrew Pulido, who promptly struck out Ragira and sophomore rightfielder Austin Wilson.

In the top of the fourth, Dons leftfielder Tom Barry hit a solo home run that stretched the San Francisco lead to 3-1.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal offense continued to sputter. In the bottom of the fifth, a bunt single by Gaffney, a hit by Ragira and Wilson getting hit by a pitch loaded the bases for freshman second baseman Alex Blandino. But Blandino struck out, and once again the Cardinal left runners on base.

In the top of the sixth, reliever Dean McArdle remained stellar, striking out the side, and the bottom of the inning finally seemed to spark the Cardinal offense. Freshman designated hitter Dominic Jose hit a fly ball to centerfield, where San Francisco centerfielder Justin Maffei laid out in an attempt to make the catch. It was difficult to tell whether the ball hit the ground, but the umpire ruled that Jose was not out, and he ended up with a triple. Sophomore Brett Michael Doran came in as a pinch hitter and drove Jose home, cutting the Dons’ lead to one run.

Schmidt relieved McArdle in the seventh inning, and despite a fluke single by Maffei and an error by Blandino, he left the inning unscathed. The bottom half of the seventh was uneventful for the Stanford offense as reliever Haden Hinkle retired the side in order.

After a great eighth by Schmidt, the Stanford bats finally exploded. To lead off the inning, Blandino was hit by a pitch. Junior Elliott Waterman then came in to relieve Hinkle and quickly gave up a walk to Jose. Next up was junior Eric Smith, who had come into the game at catcher the inning before. Smith hit a booming double to right field that drove in Blandino.

“Coming off the bench is always tough,” Smith said. “I just wanted to look for a pitch early in the count that I could hit, and luckily it stayed fair.”

After an intentional walk to Stewart to load the bases, Gaffney drew a walk to put Stanford up 4-3. Piscotty then hit a sacrifice fly, followed by a double by Ragira, and the Cardinal had a comfortable three-run lead. In the top of the ninth, sophomore closer A.J. Vanegas struck out three batters to secure the win.

This weekend Stanford will travel to Salt Lake City to take on Utah in a three-game series, starting Friday at 5 p.m. PDT.

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