Although its 1-3 start wasn’t exactly what No. 25 Stanford baseball envisioned for a 2015 season, the Cardinal will have the opportunity this weekend to get back on track against the No. 24 Cal State Fullerton (1-3) team that is suffering from similar disappointment to start its season.
The root of the Cardinal’s problems in the season-opening weekend was in their offense — while the Cardinal’s weekend starters only gave up five earned runs over 18.2 innings pitched in the Indiana series, the offense only gave them a total of nine runs of support over those three games as the team has struggled out of the gate with a .225 team batting average.
“[The freshmen] got their feet wet,” said head coach Mark Marquess after last weekend’s games. “A lot of the position players got to play, a lot of guys got to pitch. And some good things from them. But the flip side of that — it’s all about doing enough to win, and we obviously haven’t done that.”
Don’t really expect that to change this weekend, either.
This weekend’s matchup between the Titans and Cardinal is expected to be a pitching-dominated clash, with the Cardinal’s talented starting corps matched up against a deep Fullerton staff headlined by USA Collegiate National Team member Thomas Eschelman, who notched 10 strikeouts against just one walk in his last outing. He’s coming off of a formidable sophomore campaign in which he struck out 99 hitters against just eight walks all season.
The matchup between Eschelman and sophomore Cal Quantrill for Stanford is expected to be one of the premier pitching duels of the season. Quantrill looked tremendous — even on his newly added curveball — in the season opener last Friday, pitching 5.2 innings of one-run ball and has seemingly picked up right where he left off from his strong close to last season.
Junior Marc Brakeman and senior John Hochstatter will follow Quantrill, with Brakeman having looked particularly impressive against Indiana after a strong offseason in the Cape Cod League in which he drew the attention of scouts around the nation. He also shut down a potent Indiana lineup and allowed just one run on four hits in 6.0 innings in his outing, demonstrating impressive improvement in his control from last season in the process.
The flip side has been that there have been few bright sides on the offensive side of the ball — one of the few being freshman Matt Winaker, who will carry a four-game hitting streak into the series. Junior Zach Hoffpauir, expected to be a huge force in the heart of the Cardinal lineup, has gotten off to a slow 1-for-9 start at the plate. Furthermore, while junior Drew Jackson has reached in four straight and sophomore Tommy Edman has been a spark at the top of the lineup, Stanford’s lineup has yet to gel, as was the case at the start of last season.
Stanford will take on Fullerton for the first time since 2011 at 7 p.m. today, followed by a second game at 7 p.m. on Saturday before a 1 p.m. finale on Sunday.
Contact Do-Hyoung Park at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.