Despite an uncharacteristically poor pitching performance and some defensive miscues, Stanford’s baseball team (11-14, 3-6 Pac-12) averted disaster on Tuesday night with a 7-6 comeback victory over UC-Davis (14-15, 1-5 Big West). It was the Cardinal offense that bailed the team out, scoring three runs in with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to turn a 6-4 deficit into a 7-6 advantage.
Junior Dominic Jose, who entered the game hitting just .118 (2-for-17) with one RBI on the season, stepped up in the eighth against UC-Davis freshman reliever Zach Stone, who had just been called in from the bullpen. He lined the first pitch he saw down the right-field line for a double, scoring sophomore Zach Hoffpauir and junior Wayne Taylor to tie the game at six.
“I wanted to get something up in the zone because I wanted to get a good swing on it, knowing that we were down two,” Jose said. “He threw me a fastball up, and I thought, ‘This is it. I have to take my best swing at this one.’ I hit it good and just started running.”
The double was part of a 3-for-4 day for the Boca Raton, Fl. native, a performance that has been a long time coming given his early-season struggles.
“I’ve been working so hard in the cages. It’s been more mentally than anything because I know the struggles of getting off to a slow start,” Jose said. “But you have to believe in yourself. Coming out today and being able to help the team with this big comeback win is what it’s all about.”
“He struggled early, and it’s tough for a switch-hitter,” said head coach Mark Marquess. “But he’s done a great job. He got in the lineup against Oregon State and hit the ball hard, and obviously had a big hit for us [tonight].”
Junior Brant Whiting, pinch-hitting for sophomore shortstop Drew Jackson, followed Jose’s double with an RBI single of his own on an 0-2 count, giving the Cardinal the lead, which junior Sam Lindquist protected in the top of the ninth.
But it was the team’s pitching that put Stanford in a hole to begin with, as Marquess’ decision to pitch by committee in order to save arms turned out to be tougher than anticipated. The Cardinal tied a season high by surrendering nine walks and also hit three batsmen.
“We’ve been pitching so well, throwing a lot of strikes and not walking a lot of people, but we didn’t do that tonight,” Marquess said. “It was out of character for us. We gave them too much and they took advantage and got a couple of big hits.”
Freshman Tyler Thorne, who last appeared for the Cardinal on Mar. 30 against Oregon in a scoreless inning of relief, had a strong, albeit abbreviated start. Over three innings pitched, he allowed one run despite not giving up a hit against the Aggies on a leadoff walk to Aggie senior Spencer Brann in the top of the third, who advanced on a wild pitch and a groundout and went on to score on a fielder’s choice.
But from there, the Stanford bullpen allowed runs in each of the next four innings, spurred by control problems and some shoddy defense, including an error by senior second baseman Brett Michael Doran with two outs in the bottom of the seventh that provided UC-Davis with an insurance run.
The Cardinal offense was just enough to overcome the poor pitching, as the seven runs scored in the game was its most since March 4 at Cal — a 12-game span. It was also the team’s first multi-home run game since the third game of the season against Rice, as junior third baseman Alex Blandino went 1-for-4 with a homer and Hoffpauir went 2-for-4 with a homer of his own.
“Our pitching has been great, especially last weekend, so you can’t expect that every single game,” Jose said. “[Tonight’s performance was] big for the bats — for the guys in the lineup to get some confidence. It’s big for them going forward against teams like Washington this weekend.”
Stanford’s series in Seattle against the No. 9 Huskies — the Cardinal’s sixth ranked opponent of the season — is set for a 5 p.m. start on Friday night. Saturday’s game at 6 p.m. and Sunday’s game at 4 p.m. will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.