Indiana (43-13) stayed one step ahead of Stanford baseball (31-24) all afternoon long en route to a 4-2 victory in a winner’s bracket regional matchup on Saturday. With the defeat, the Card drop to the loser’s bracket to face Youngstown State (17-37) in an elimination game tomorrow.
The loss was the end of a 10-game consecutive wins streak for Stanford junior starting pitcher John Hochstatter, who had also won all seven of his starts since entering the rotation in the middle of April. True to form, Hochstatter pitched to contact, but Indiana was able to make much more contact than recent opponents. Despite beginning the game with a .202 batting average against, the Hoosiers recorded nine hits and four runs against Hochstatter in his 7.2 innings pitched.
The Hoosiers jumped on the Cardinal right away, with a leadoff walk and a subsequent double to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Due to the regional format, the Card played as the home team despite the game taking place on Indiana’s home turf, Bart Kaufman Field.
In the bottom half of the inning, Stanford responded with more two-out heroics. After scoring five of its eight runs yesterday with two outs, junior Alex Blandino singled and junior Austin Slater doubled him home to knot the game at 1-1. Slater extended his hitting streak to 19 games with the double and is tied for ninth all-time in Stanford history.
However, the Hoosiers wouldn’t let the game stay tied for long, scoring a run in the third inning thanks to Sam Travis’ RBI single. Travis continued to plague the Card later in the fifth inning, when his solo home run to left-center field stretched the lead to 3-1 for Indiana.
Stanford struggled to produce offensively throughout the middle innings against Hoosiers’ starting pitcher Joey Denato, with only two hits in innings two through five. The senior pitcher began the contest with a 12-1 record and a 1.77 ERA and kept the Cardinal off-balance all game long. He threw 7.1 innings while allowing only six hits and two runs in earning his 13th victory, tying him for the most wins in the nation.
The Card pulled to within only a single run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Slater hit a solo home run to make it 3-2. For Slater, it was only his second home run of the season. The junior continues to excel at the plate, hitting .446 (33-for-74) during his hitting streak, which is the longest streak since Tyler Gaffney hit in 24 straight games in 2012.
Yet again, the Hoosiers were able to widen the gap when Will Nolden singled home Travis for Indiana’s fourth run of the game. Freshmen Chris Castellanos had relieved Hochstatter and recorded a strikeout before surrendering the RBI single. Castellanos pitched 1.1 innings, allowing only one hit before giving way to fellow freshmen Chris Viall for the final out in the top of the ninth.
In both the eighth and the ninth innings, Stanford doubled to put a runner in scoring position. Freshman Tommy Edman led off the eighth inning with his double but was stranded at third base after three straight outs. Junior Wayne Taylor, who was pinch-hitting, kept the Cardinal momentarily alive with his two-out opposite field ground-rule double, but he would ultimately be unable to score as Indiana closed out the victory.
The Cardinal suffered their first defeat in an NCAA Regional game since 2010 when they lost 6-5 against Cal State Fullerton. In both 2011 and 2012, the Cardinal swept the NCAA Regional, going 3-0 at Fullerton and at Stanford, respectively.
In order to advance to the Super Regional, Stanford will need three straight victories, one against Youngstown State and two against Indiana. The action begins at 10 a.m. tomorrow when Stanford will take on Youngstown State.
Contact Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.