A six-run seventh inning pushed Pacific (11-25, 1-11 WCC) to a 15-12 win over No. 18 Stanford baseball (22-8, 8-4 Pac-12) in Stockton on Wednesday — the Tigers’ first against the Cardinal since 2015 — but the struggles for Stanford started in the first inning.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Joey Dixon started on the mound for the Cardinal. He walked two of the first three batters and gave up a single to center to load the bases. Head coach David Esquer ’87 pulled Dixon to prevent any damage on the scoreboard, replacing him with Brandt Pancer, another freshman righty. Pancer would walk the first batter, letting Pacific tie the game — freshman shortstop Tommy Troy scored in the top of the first inning off an RBI single from senior right fielder Christian Robinson — but otherwise was able to prevent further damage.
Pancer conceded a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning to give Pacific the lead. A wild pitch allowed senior second baseman Tim Tawa to tie the game an inning later, but Pancer was replaced nonetheless after two complete innings. His replacement, sophomore left-handed pitcher Quinn Mathews, only lasted one.
The first pitch by Matthews was taken deep to left for a solo home run, while a fielding error by Robinson scored an unearned run later in the inning. Despite the shaky start by Stanford’s pitching, it seemed like the offense would be able to carry it over the finish line. A three-RBI double by junior Vincent Martinez, who played at both catcher and designated hitter in Wednesday’s contest, was part of a five-run fourth inning for the Cardinal, to give them a comfortable 7-4 lead.
That lead would hold until the bottom of the sixth inning, when senior left-hander Drew Dowd took to the mound. Taking over with a runner on first, Dowd gave up a single and two sacrifice plays to score one runner, and allowed another one to score on a wild pitch.
Ahead by only one run, Stanford’s offense once again bailed out the bullpen by scoring four runs in the top of the seventh inning to give the Cardinal a cushion, this time to the tune of a 11-6 lead.
That wasn’t enough to stop Pacific’s catcher Jeremy Lea from starting the seventh inning disaster for the Cardinal. Lea hit a two-RBI triple to right center, resulting in Esquer calling on the bullpen for the fifth time in the game. This time he turned to freshman Tommy O’Rourke to preserve an 11-8 advantage, but the right-handed pitcher did not deliver. He hit the first batter he faced, and threw two wild pitches during the next at-bat, one of which brought Lea home. After conceding an RBI single, Esquer turned to fifth-year Zach Grech (4-4) to pitch the Cardinal to victory.
He did well facing his first batter, who lined out right and set up a double play when the throw by Robinson beat a runner at home plate. But even Grech couldn’t stop the bleeding. Pacific left-fielder Charles Middleton took him deep to cap off the six-run seventh inning and give the Tigers a 12-11. Junior Austin Kretzschmar replaced Troy at shortstop in the bottom of the seventh, and drew a bases-loaded walk in the next frame to tie the game. At that point, the Tigers still had gas in the tank while the Cardinal ran empty.
Grech gave up two walks, two singles and hit a batter in the next frame. The three-run eighth inning sealed the game for Pacific and handed Grech his fourth loss of the season, bringing his record to an even 4-4.
The Cardinal now turn their attention to a weekend series where they’ll travel to Dedeaux Field to face USC (18-17, 6-9 Pac-12).