Decades of history will collide this weekend when No. 2 Stanford (31-7, 15-3 Pac-12) steps on to Dedeaux Field to face USC (19-22-1, 8-9-1 Pac-12) for a three game series.
Stanford lists the all-time record, 158-145-2, in its favor, with the first matchup dating back to 1959, when the Athletic Association of Western Universities — the precursor to the Pac-12 — was formed. On the other hand, USC lists the all-time record, 220-187-2, in its own favor, with the first meeting occurring 36 years prior in 1923, during the days of the Pacific Coast Conference.
It will also be a chance for two coaches to reunite. The Cardinal head coach David Esquer, a Stanford graduate, held the same position up north in Berkeley for 18 seasons prior to moving back to Palo Alto. For the first twelve years, he was joined by Dan Hubbs, a USC graduate, who has now been the Trojans’ head coach for seven seasons.
“We are extremely excited about having Dan join our staff,” Esquer said after hiring Hubbs at Cal. “He provides our program with some valuable expertise, both as a former Pac-10 player and as a professional ballplayer.”
Esquer and Hubbs will meet for just the second time while leading their alma maters. A season ago, the Cardinal outscored the Trojans 34-2 across a three game sweep.
Hubbs, who finished his career at USC as the all time saves leader and tacked on seven-year minor league career, is known as a pitching specialist, but his staff sports a 4.58 ERA this year, which is seventh in the conference. The Trojans, however, are third in the Pac-12 in hits — trailing the Arizona schools.
USC is led on offense by CJ Stubbs (.298/.389/.503), who is at the top of the team in home runs, slugging percentage, total bases and doubles. Matthew Acosta (.315/.417/.462) paces the team in batting average, on-base percentage and RBIs.
The Trojans have Connor Lunn (6-1, 2.23 ERA) at the top of the rotation. Since moving from closer to Friday night starter, Lunn is 5-1 and has allowed just one run in his last 21.0 innings. Holding the conference’s fourth-best ERA, Lunn has also thrown a save.
Of course, Stanford’s offense is prolific, especially of late. After hitting 39 home runs in the last 15 games, the Cardinal are now eleventh in the nation in home runs per game. Senior outfielder Brandon Wulff (.302/.442/.721) has carried the load with a team-leading 16 home runs, which ranks second in the Pac-12 and tenth in the country. Wulff also leads the team in slugging percentage, runs, and walks.
Led by redshirt junior infielder Duke Kinamon’s (.296/.342/.444) ten, Stanford’s 44 stolen bases rank third in the Pac-12. The Cardinal also have junior DH Will Matthiessen (.366/.449/.599), the most recent Pac-12 Player of the Week, whose team-leading batting average is seventh in the conference. Matthiessen also paces Stanford in on-base percentage, hits and RBIs.
On Friday, sophomore RHP Brendan Beck (3-3, 2.52 ERA) will toe the rubber opposite the Trojans’ Lunn. Then Matthiessen (4-1, 3.62 ERA), who entered the rotation just four weeks ago, will start the Saturday matchup against Isaac Esqueda (3-3, 3.98 ERA). USC has yet to name a starting pitcher for the finale, when they will come up against junior LHP Erik Miller (6-0, 2.60 ERA), who ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in ERA, eighth in opposing batting average and tenth in strikeouts.
Beck, Mille and All-American closer, junior RHP Jack Little (3-1, 1.63 ERA) lead a pitching staff that ranks seventh in the NCAA with a 3.10 ERA.
Games will start on Friday at 7 p.m. PST and Saturday at 6 p.m. PST. The potentially decisive game three will begin Sunday at 2 p.m. PST.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.