Stanford baseball kept rolling this past weekend in the desert, as it took two out of three from reeling Arizona (19-30, 8-19 Pac-12). It was a far cry from the Cardinal’s performance during their last visit to Hi Corbett Field in 2012, when the eventual national champions swept them. Stanford (24-21, 11-13) was able to put both offense and pitching together after dropping the opener 3-2 in 10 innings on Friday, rallying for a 10-6 win on Saturday and a 5-3 victory on Sunday to take the series.
“The key for us was two great pitching performances by the two left-handers. Hochstatter again pitched another great game and Logan James did a great job,” said head coach Mark Marquess. “Especially after being one strike away from winning that Friday night game, it was huge that we came back and won two.”
Stanford’s starters went 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in the three-game set — one of the team’s better pitching performances of late. Freshman Cal Quantrill rallied for his strongest outing since April 5 against Oregon State, as he allowed just one run over 7.2 innings. He departed with a 2-1 lead in the eighth, giving way to senior closer A.J. Vanegas. For the second time in three appearances, Vanegas blew the save opportunity — this one coming after surrendering a single with an 0-2 count and two outs in the ninth. In the bottom of the 10th, the Wildcats rallied for another run with two outs for a walk-off victory.
Meanwhile, junior John Hochstatter and sophomore Logan James, both southpaws who began the season in the bullpen in favor of freshman starting pitchers, also went deep into their respective games and contributed to key wins.
Hochstatter finished one out shy of a complete game on Saturday, allowing six runs — four earned — over 8.2 innings. He earned his fifth win in as many tries as a starter, a span over which he has allowed just eight earned runs over 41.1 innings for a 1.74 ERA.
James, in his third start of the season, lasted a season-long seven innings, shutting out the Wildcats until he allowed two runners in the eighth that went on to score after freshman Brett Hanewich came on in relief. Still, he earned the win after the Cardinal offense treated him to an early lead with a five-run third inning in which it knocked four of its six hits in the game. As a starter, James improved to 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
“The fastball I was throwing nearly 80 percent of the time,” said James of his most recent outing. “The fastball had good movement and velocity, so it felt good. Relieving, I got in my own head a little bit, got nervous. But starting, I’ve been able to free my mind.”
Stanford’s offense has also exploded of late, as it has a .297/.370/.403 mark over the team’s last eight games, in which the Cardinal own a 6-2 record. On Saturday, the Cardinal tallied 20 hits, their most since 2012, as every player in the starting lineup had at least one hit to give Hochstatter a cushion to work with. The team hit .488 (20-for-41) in the game and a combined .330 (36-for-109) in the series. Arizona’s pitching ranks second-to-last in the Pac-12 with a 4.67 ERA.
Junior Austin Slater has continued to rake, as he has improved his season batting average to a team-high .337 over his nine-game hitting streak. Over that stretch, he has hit .486 (17-for-35) with 10 RBIs and six runs scored.
Sophomore two-sport athlete Zach Hoffpauir has also come along at the plate of late, as he is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak in which he has carried a .538 batting average (14-for-26) and five RBIs.
“Zach is really coming into his own as a hitter,” Marquess said. “He’s hitting the breaking ball, he’s hitting the ball to right field. He’s pulling the ball. They used to try to get him out with the non-fastball and they can’t do that anymore. He’s really matured into a really good hitter.”
Stanford’s next contest starts tonight at 5:30 p.m. against San Jose State (17-36, 10-20 Mountain West), beginning a five-game homestand in which the team will also welcome Washington State for a three-game set over the weekend followed by Pacific next Tuesday.
This will be the second game this season between the two teams, after the Cardinal blew out the Spartans, 9-3, in their fourth game of the season. Freshman Tyler Thorne had a strong outing in which he allowed three runs — one earned — over six innings and the offense backed him up with 14 hits. Slater went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored in the game.
Freshman Chris Viall will make the start for Stanford, in his first since April 6 at Oregon State. After being removed from the rotation after consecutive outings lasting just 1.1 innings, Viall has improved in his six appearances out of the bullpen since then — allowing just three runs over 11.2 innings for a 2.31 ERA.
Down the stretch run of its regular season, Stanford needs to take care of business against lesser competition — who have a .411 combined winning percentage — in order to assure its position near the top of the national RPI ranking, which plays a big role in determining postseason berths and positioning.
“It’s all RPI,” Marquess said. “That’s why we didn’t make it last year even though we were 16-14 in the league. It’s just the opposite this year where our overall record isn’t as good, but our RPI is good. We’ll see if that makes a difference but we have to keep playing.”
Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.