The hot bat of junior Alex Blandino and strong relief pitching from sophomore Marcus Brakeman powered Stanford baseball to a win as the Card jumped ahead early and led the whole way in a 6-2 victory over Saint Mary’s (13-27, 5-10 WCC). The win moved Stanford (17-17, 6-9 Pac-12) back to .500 for the first time since March 28, when they stood at 10-10, and was the Cardinal’s sixth victory in their last seven games.
“The mindset of the team the last few games is just that it’s been all of us [contributing],” Brakeman said. “Everyone’s going out there and attacking the other team, really wanting to win. It means a lot getting back to .500.”
The Cardinal offense finished with nine total hits, including two hits apiece from Blandino, junior Austin Slater, sophomore Zach Hoffpauir and freshman Tommy Edman, but it was Blandino who stole the show. Blandino finished the game 2-for-4 with two home runs, four RBIs and three runs for his third career two-homer game. Over his past three games, Blandino is 5-for-12 with six total runs scored as well.
Blandino’s two home runs give Stanford nine total homers in its last 16 games; the Cardinal had only five home runs in its first 18 games.
Freshman Brett Hanewich took the mound to start the game for Stanford but struggled with his command in 3.1 innings pitched. Despite only surrendering two hits, the Bradenton, Fla. native issued three walks and hit two batters. Over his past four starts, Hanewich is now 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA in 17.2 innings pitched.
Brakeman impressed pitching in relief of Hanewich, throwing 5.2 innings and holding the Gaels scoreless. In addition, Brakeman allowed just five baserunners while striking out seven to pick up his first win of the season.
“I got more used to throwing all my pitches as the game went on,” Brakeman said. “Everything definitely clicked by the seventh or eighth inning.”
The game started off well for the Cardinal, as Edman and freshman Jack Klein both reached base to lead off the game before a sacrifice bunt from senior Danny Diekroeger moved them into scoring position. The bunt ultimately proved meaningless when Blandino blasted the ball over the left field fence to put Stanford ahead 3-0 in the first frame.
The teams would trade barbs in the middle innings, as the Gaels pushed a run across in the second inning to cut the lead to 3-1. But Stanford responded quickly in the third when Blandino scored on a wild pitch. In the fourth inning, an RBI single from DonAndre Clark trimmed Stanford’s lead again, this time to 4-2. A solo home run from Blandino in the fifth inning and a run from sophomore Drew Jackson on a passed ball in the sixth increased Stanford’s advantage to 6-2, which it maintained until the finish.
For Saint Mary’s, the loss was its 14th straight, and its second loss in that stretch to the Cardinal. Just over a week ago, Stanford defeated the Gaels in a come-from-behind win that saw Mark Marquess’ unit win 7-6 on a walk-off single from Diekroeger. Saint Mary’s continues to spiral downwards after starting the season 13-13.
There will be little rest for the Cardinal — who have played five games in the last six days — as they take on Cal in a three-game series starting this Friday.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.