Playing for the fourth straight day, Stanford baseball (19-19, 7-11 Pac-12) withstood a late rally from non-conference opponent Pacific (23-22, 12-9 WCC) to seal a 3-2 victory on the road. Stanford climbed back to .500 with the win, the sixth time this season the Cardinal have been at the middle mark even though they have yet to break past the barrier, having lost all five previous times they have stood at .500.
Although the bats were relatively quiet for the Cardinal, stellar pitching from sophomore Logan James and solid work in relief from freshmen Chris Viall and Chris Castellanos combined to bring home the victory, which is only the fourth time this season the team has won when scoring three or less runs.
James started on the mound for the first time this season and threw four scoreless innings, allowing only a single hit. His start was only the fourth start of the season not made by a freshman, with the other three coming from junior John Hochstatter. James also tied his career-high with five strikeouts.
Stanford struck early in the top of the first inning when junior Alex Blandino doubled down the left field line, bringing home senior Brett Michael Doran for the first run of the game. Although they continued to threaten early on with four more hits in the next three innings, the Cardinal would only pick up two hits in the final five innings.
One of those hits came in the sixth inning off of the bat of freshman Tommy Edman, who knocked a two-run bases-loaded single through the right side, extending Stanford’s lead to 3-0. Edman has now hit in nine straight games with 13 total hits in that streak.
In the seventh inning, Pacific threatened with two hits and a walk to load the bases with only one out. An RBI groundout brought home Pacific’s first run of the game, but Castellanos, who entered in relief of Viall in the inning, then locked down and stranded runners at second and third.
Even with their backs against the wall, the Tigers again rallied with back-to-back doubles from senior Erik Lockwood and freshman Parker Klein with two outs in the ninth inning to cut the deficit to 3-2. Castellanos quelled the Cardinal’s fears, though, by inducing a lineout to again strand a runner in scoring position and clinch the victory for the Card.
Stanford improved to 8-0 in its non-conference midweek games this season and has now won seven of its last 10 games overall. On the other side, Pacific dropped its second consecutive contest after winning 10 of its previous 11.
Every non-conference game is essentially a must-win at this point in the season for Stanford, which dropped six spots to 34th in the nation in RPI when the new rankings were released on Tuesday. With the Card fighting on the bubble for a postseason berth, a loss to an opponent from a weak conference could damage their resume beyond repair.
Stanford resumes play on Friday at 6 p.m. when it faces UCLA in Los Angeles.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.