By Alexa Gold
No. 9 Stanford baseball (33-14, 17-10 Pac-12) won its last series of the regular season against Oregon State (34-22, 16-14 Pac-12) with two strong showings on Thursday and Friday. A 9-1 Beaver victory on Saturday afternoon halted the Cardinal’s chances for a sweep.
Thursday’s game saw strong pitching performances from both teams, but especially from Cardinal senior RHP Brendan Beck, who logged his first career complete-game shutout. The game ran one hour and 53 minutes long, with only one run scored — a solo homer in the sixth inning from sophomore center fielder Brock Jones. Meanwhile, the Cardinal had Beck to thank for six one-two-three innings and the visitors’ bats connecting on only a handful of pitches. Of Beck’s 107 total pitches, 75 were strikes, 10 were strikeouts, three were hits and one was a walk.
The Cardinal managed to shut out the Beavers once again on Friday, and another Stanford pitcher broke a career record with fifth-year RHP Zach Grech — usually a closer, and a top-ranked one at that — pitching a career-high four scoreless innings at the top of the game. The Cardinal defense helped to keep those innings scoreless with two double plays in the first and second innings. Meanwhile, sophomore duo Jones and catcher Kody Huff got to work in the first inning to put the Cardinal’s first run on the board, with Jones singling to right field and Huff following suit. Huff’s hit enabled Jones to score on a throwing error by the Beavers right fielder.
The two came back to do more damage in the third, with the Cardinal posting two more runs after a pair of doubles from Huff and senior right fielder Christian Robinson. Four innings of scoreless play ensued before the Cardinal plated two more runs in the eighth inning, this time thanks to a triple from Huff and a single from senior first baseman Nick Brueser, cementing the 5-0 Cardinal victory. (It is this type of hitting from Huff that explains his recent promotion to the clean-up spot in the lineup.)
Oregon State looked to break the shutout in the rubber match, and despite a one-two-three first inning by junior RHP Alex Williams, it loaded the bases in the second and scored two runs. The Beavers posted two more runs in the fourth inning, both of which were unearned. The Cardinal finally put a run on the board in the fourth thanks to an RBI double from freshman third baseman Drew Bowser, but this would be the only run the Cardinal would plate all game, while the Beavers continued to increase their lead despite a series of relief pitching changes in sophomore LHP Quinn Matthews, freshman RHP Tommy O’Rourke and freshman LHP Drew Dowd.
The visitors posted three runs in the sixth — two of which were unearned — and added another in the seventh. While the Cardinal threatened in the seventh after loading the bases, they did so with too many outs and could not make anything of it. Struggling to mount any further pressure, the Cardinal allowed a final run by the Beavers in the ninth inning, sealing their 9-1 loss.
With this series win, Stanford has almost certainly locked up the right to host regional at Sunken Diamond. The team remains in firm contention for a top-eight seed, which would mean its road to Omaha would run through Palo Alto. The NCAA Tournament field of 64 teams will be announced Monday at 9 a.m. PT.