By Jose Saldana
A three-run home run allowed by Cardinal starter Erik Miller in the first inning set the tone for No. 3 Stanford baseball’s (43-9, 21-7 Pac-12) 7-0 loss to Washington (29-22, 19-9) on Thursday night in Seattle, WA.
The rough loss means that the Pac-12 title remains unclaimed for at least one more day. The Cardinal need one win to earn their first Pac-12 championship since 2004.
“We got off to a really rough start, and that’s all Washington really needed tonight,” Stanford head coach David Esquer said. “We had our opportunities, and maybe a couple breaks didn’t go our way, but we have been in this situation before, and we know what we need to do to come back stronger over these next two games.”
Miller, who made his first start on May 6, lasted only 0.2 innings after giving up the home run and then walking the next batter. He was relieved by freshman Austin Weiermiller, who came in and gave the Cardinal 4.2 innings of one-run ball in one of the best performances of the southpaw’s young career.
“Credit our bullpen for keeping it close for a while,” Esquer said. “Weiermiller did a nice job in relief with Miller struggling, keeping us in it for so long.”
The bullpen kept it close until it couldn’t when the Huskies scored three unearned runs.
Even if the bullpen had not allowed a single run, the offense would have squandered the opportunity.
The bats could not get anything going off of Huskies starter Lucas Knowles, who pitched 5.2 innings and struck out six Cardinal.
Misfortune also plagued the Stanford offense. In the top of the eighth with two outs, senior second baseman Beau Branton drew the only walk of the game for the Cardinal. Freshman third baseman Tim Tawa hit a shot over the center fielder, which bounced over the center field wall for a ground-rule double.
If the ball did not go over the fence, then Branton would have scored the Cardinal’s first run. Instead, the situation was runners at third and second with junior shortstop Nico Hoerner at the plate.
Hoerner hit a hard grounder that almost went into the outfield to score two runners, but the Huskies second baseman AJ Graffanino made a nice diving grab to rob Hoerner and the Cardinal of runs and steal any Cardinal momentum.
To add misery to misfortune, in the bottom of the eighth, sophomore reliever Zach Grech struck out Huskies Joe Wainhouse, but the ball bounced behind junior catcher Christian Molfetta, and he couldn’t find it. Wainhouse reached first base, and the Cardinal would go on to yield three runs in the inning.
Tawa and sophomore left fielder Kyle Stowers were the only Cardinal with multi-hit efforts. Tawa went 3-for-4, and Stowers went 2-for-4. Branton was the only other Stanford batter with a hit.
The Cardinal will have two more tries to clinch the Pac-12 with Game 2 against Washington coming on Friday at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.