Stanford baseball (11-2, 1-0 Pac-12) started conference play with a win at Sunken Diamond, as the team beat Utah (3-9, 0-1 Pac-12) 4-2 in its first game of Pac-12 play on Friday.
Senior right-handed pitcher Brendan Beck started the day leading the team in strikeouts with 22, and tacked on 11 more in his start on Friday, pitching eight innings of three-hit baseball.
The Cardinal struck first in the bottom of the second inning when senior first baseman Nick Brueser scored Vincent Martinez. The junior designated hitter took the first pitch he saw to left-center field for a single. A wild pitch from Utah’s starting pitcher Justin Kelly moved him to second, before a sacrifice and Brueser’s hit brought Martinez home to give Stanford a 1-0 lead.
The Utes’ Vinny Zavolta answered with a solo home run in the top of the sixth inning, ending Beck’s no-hit bid. A single from the next batter raised the possibility of the pitching change. Senior center fielder Tim Tawa did his best to keep Beck in the game by playing clean defense for the next two batters — including a diving catch — but Beck nevertheless conceded another run to put Utah up 2-1.
Sophomore left fielder Brock Jones tied it up quickly in the bottom of the frame with a solo shot of his own to right-center field before Kelly quickly retired the rest of the side.
With the game tied and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, freshman third baseman Drew Bowser put himself in scoring position with a double to left-center, but was left stranded.
It took the next inning for the Cardinal to pull ahead after sophomore catcher Kody Huff hit an RBI single to score Tawa and move Huff, who reached base on a walk, to second. Huff scored on RBI single from Bowser to put Stanford ahead 4-2 as fifth-year Zach Grech closed out the game on the mound.
Grech, who has managed to maintain a 0.00 ERA through 13.0 innings before Friday’s appearance, quickly sealed the victory for the Cardinal, who will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. PT.