Stanford baseball (20-6, 6-3 Pac-12), with solid pitching and just enough clutch hitting, was able to secure the win Wednesday against the University of the Pacific (8-20, 0-9 WCC), but squandered a few opportunities to break the game wide open.
The 2-0 midweek victory comes after a busy weekend during which the Cardinal took two out of three of its games against UCLA, winning the series but failing to secure the sweep for the fifth weekend in a row.
During the first few innings, the Cardinal continuously mounted pressure, but with little to show for it. Stanford threatened a big inning at the bottom of the first, with bases loaded and no one out — thanks to walks drawn by senior right fielder Tim Tawa and sophomore left fielder Brock Jones, as well as a single by freshman left fielder Eddie Park. The Tigers were able to pitch their way out of a jam, however, and Stanford ended up stranding runners in scoring position.
In the third inning, Tawa doubled to left field, and was driven in after Tigers sophomore RHP Hunter Hayes hit Park on a pitch, Jones drew a walk and freshman third baseman Drew Bowser hit into a fielder’s choice, giving the Cardinal a 1-0 lead.
The top of the fourth saw a new arm in senior LHP Jacob Palisch, who had a smooth nine-pitch inning. In the bottom half of the inning, freshman second baseman Tommy Troy earned a walk, followed by a single by sophomore first baseman Brett Barrera. A wild pitch by the Tigers allowed Troy to make it to third base while Barrera stayed on first. Park earned a walk, but once again Stanford stranded a runner in scoring position.
The top of the fifth saw another respectable inning from Palisch, although he gave up a hit to Tigers junior Ben Nemivant. The bottom half was highlighted by skilled junior RHP Dylan Pottgeiser striking out both Bowser and junior designated hitter Vincent Martinez. Sophomore catcher Kody Huff drew a walk, but Troy hit a ground ball to third base and was thrown out at first.
The seventh inning got underway with the Tigers threatening with a runner on second, but Stanford was able to pitch out of danger. Jones led the bottom half of the inning with a double. With Martinez at bat, Jones stole third, and Martinez drove him home with a single to left field, giving the Cardinal a 2-0 lead.
The Cardinal brought in its closer, fifth-year RHP Zach Grech, in the top of the ninth. The Tigers got a runner on first (senior Charles Middleton), but Stanford ended the game on a nicely turned double play.
The win served as a belated present for head coach David Esquer, who celebrated his 56th birthday yesterday.
The Cardinal will strive to break its sweepless streak as its head into its weekend series against Arizona State (18-9, 7-5 Pac-12). First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT Friday in Phoenix.