By Jacob Neidig
With their backs against the wall and their season on the line, the Stanford offense came alive.
Stanford (39-16, 17-10 Pac-12) bested Pac-12 rival Arizona (45-18, 21-9 Pac-12) 14-5 to survive and advance at the 2021 College World Series on Monday. After falling to NC State on Saturday, the Cardinal showed why they were able to win the regular season series against the Wildcats.
Beginning with a seven-run third inning, Stanford utilized three innings in which the team scored three runs or more to build a lead and maintain it until the final out. Over the course of the game, Stanford had all nine batters get on base at least once, eight of their nine starters get a hit and five of the nine batters finished with three hits or more as the team finished with the most hits in a College World Series game since 2009.
On the mound, junior RHP Alex Williams got the start and gave Stanford more than five innings of work, which proved to be enough for he and the team to pick up the win.
After getting a runner on base with less than two outs and not being able to score in both the first and second innings, the Cardinal capitalized in the top of the third. With one out and the top of the lineup at the plate, five straight batters reached on hits, highlighted by doubles from senior second baseman Tim Tawa and sophomore center fielder Brock Jones. The barrage of hits gave Stanford an early 3-0 lead and prompted an early call to the bullpen for the Wildcats, who turned to freshman RHP Chandler Murphy.
With one out and runners on first and second, Murphy was able to retire senior first baseman Nick Brueser, but a wild pitch during the at-bat allowed the runners to advance 90 feet closer. This proved to be critical as freshman third baseman Drew Bowser’s single to left field was able to plate both runners and make the score 5-0 in favor of Stanford. Before Murphy could end the rally, freshman DH Tommy Troy pummeled a 2-0 fastball into the left field stands to plate two more runs to extend the lead to seven.
After a scoreless frame from Williams in the bottom of the inning, the Cardinal picked up where they left off to begin the fourth lead off batter freshman left fielder Eddie Park and Tawa both singled. Two batters later, a single from sophomore catcher Kody Huff brought Park home and advanced Tawa to third. Senior right fielder Christian Robinson doubled home both runners making the score 10-0 before the inning ended.
Williams, who was fresh off a complete game shutout win against Texas Tech, breezed through the first three innings. In the bottom of the fourth, after striking out the first batter, Williams walked two straight Wildcat batters. Williams then forced the next batter into popping up to Bowser. On a two-out, 2-2 pitch, Arizona freshman catcher Daniel Susac lifted a deep fly ball into the right center gap that was just out of the reach of Jones which allowed two runs to score. Williams was able to retire the next batter leaving the score at 10-2 in favor of Stanford with the game almost half order.
After a scoreless 5th inning for both teams, the Wildcats chipped into the Cardinal lead in the bottom half of the 6th. After a single to right field and a double that scored the runner, Stanford head coach David Esquer ’87 turned to senior reliever Jacob Palisch to end the rally. With the score 10-3, Palisch gave up an RBI triple and a sacrifice fly before the inning was over to make it a five run game.
In the top of the 7th inning, the Cardinal responded with a lead off double from Bowser. Two batters later, sophomore shortstop Adam Crampton lined an RBI double into the right field corner to bring Bowser home and extend the lead to six. Park walked and Tawa lined out, prompting two separate Wildcat pitching changes. With two outs and two runners on in the inning, Jones lifted an 0-1 pitch into the right field bleachers for a 3-run home run to give Stanford some much needed insurance at 14-5, which proved to be the final score.
Stanford ended the game with 20 hits and put the leadoff runner on base in five of the nine innings. Jones had a stellar day at the plate, collecting three hits and five RBIs including a double and homerun. Bowser also finished with three hits, going 3-5 with a double and two RBIs. Robinson and Huff each had three hits on the day, as well.
On the mound, Williams received the win to move to 5-2 on the season. He went 5 ⅓ innings and gave up four runs, while striking out four and walking three. Palisch received the save in relief with 3 ⅔ innings of one run work.
Next up, the Cardinal will face Vanderbilt, who lost to NC State on Monday night 1-0. The elimination game will take place on Wednesday at 6 p.m. PT at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.