Offense grinds to a halt as baseball finishes series against Santa Clara

Feb. 28, 2021, 9:45 p.m.

Stanford baseball (3-1, 0-0 Pac-12) fell short of sweeping Santa Clara (2-5, 0-0 WCC) to open its season. After winning the season opener on Thursday 10-7, the Cardinal took the next two contests on Friday and Saturday before being shut out to close the series.

Under the Friday night lights, sophomore Quinn Matthews (1-0), freshman Ryan Bruno (0-1) and senior Austin Weiermiller pitched a combined no-hitter through seven innings. Meanwhile, a home run and six-RBI day from senior first baseman Nick Brueser led Stanford to an 8-0 shutout victory. 

Freshman Joey Dixon started on the mound at Sunken Diamond for the third game of the series on Saturday but only lasted 2.1 innings. Dixon gave up three runs in his start and kept the game close for a Stanford offense that once again got on the board early.

Freshman second baseman Tommy Troy led off for the Cardinal and took the first pitch he saw for a single to left field. Two batters later, he stole second. Santa Clara’s Matthew McGarry notched three straight two-out walks to score Troy and give the Cardinal a 1-0 lead before retiring the side. 

Santa Clara tied the game in the top of the second before an RBI single from senior center fielder Tim Tawa and a two-run home run from sophomore left fielder Brock Jones gave the Cardinal 4-1 lead.

Dixon let the Broncos close the gap to one run, and his replacement started a slew of four Cardinal relief pitchers, none of whom lasted more than 1.2 innings. The Cardinal bats initially backed up the constant pitching changes, with back-to-back RBI singles in the third inning extending Stanford’s lead to 6-3, but they started to quiet down as the game dragged on.

A Santa Clara run in the top of the fourth inning left the Cardinal clinging to a slim 6-4 lead that would evaporate in the eighth inning.  

Fifth-year pitcher Zach Grech (1-0), who earned a save in the season opener, took over in the top of the eighth with a runner on first. Facing his first batter, Grech threw a wild pitch, advancing the runner to second, before hitting the batter with a pitch to fill out first base. A passed ball and a wild pitch scored a runner and advanced another to third. Grech struck out the next batter, bringing the situation to two outs with a runner on third base. Sophomore third baseman Brett Barrera fielded a routine ground ball but the throw to Brueser forced the first baseman off the bag, earning Barrerra an error and tying the game at 6-6.

In the bottom of the frame, the offense was called upon to score to avoid extra innings. It answered the call in a big way. With a runner on second, Tawa singled to right field and gave the Cardinal a 7-6 advantage. Tawa then stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch that simultaneously walked Jones. With runners on the corners, sophomore catcher Kody Huff stepped up the plate and smacked a home run to left-center. The bench erupted and Grech earned the win in the 10-6 victory on Saturday.

Santa Clara hosted Sunday’s game, which saw the Cardinal offense come to a screeching halt. Huff, fresh off his home run to seal Saturday’s game, logged the only hit in a 13-0 loss that was marked by a dismal pitching performance. Freshman Ryan Bruno started on Sunday but was replaced after his first inning, in which he conceded a run and walked three batters. The next four Cardinal pitchers all gave up at least two runs, including freshman Drew Dowd who allowed six in his 1.2 innings.

The team will face San Francisco (3-4, 0-0 WCC) in a four-game series on Thursday, with the first two contests taking place on the Farm.

Michael Espinosa '22 is majoring in international relations. He's the head of The Daily's social media team, and editor for the University beat and also occasionally writes for sports, arts, and The Grind. He's the biggest Taylor Swift fan at Stanford and the proudest New Yorker you will ever meet. Contact him at mespinosa 'at'

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