Hold your horses: Cardinal shut out Broncos at Sunken Diamond

Feb. 23, 2022, 1:26 a.m.

In its first midweek contest of the season, Stanford baseball (3-1, 0-0 Pac-12) defeated cross-town foe Santa Clara (1-3, 0-0 WCC) 5-0 behind a stellar pitching performance. The Cardinal pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts and only allowed three hits in Tuesday night’s game.

The Cardinal entered the game following their season-opening series against Cal State Fullerton (1-2, 0-0 Big West), where they took two of three games. As for Santa Clara, their first action was against USC (2-2, 0-0 Pac-12); in their first series against the Trojans, the Broncos hit .271 as a team and scored 14 runs.

But in his first career start for Stanford, freshman pitcher Ty Uber put a damper on the Broncos’ offensive production. Uber, who pitched two scoreless innings in his debut versus Cal State Fullerton on Friday, maintained his consistency as a starter. 

“I thought he got better as the innings went on,” said head coach David Esquer. “I thought early on he was a little off, but I thought he started to get more rhythm. I thought his pitches were more precise by the third and fourth inning here, which is what we’ve seen in practice and how we’ve seen him compete beforehand.”

Uber struck out five Broncos in just four innings and allowed two hits during his time on the mound. When he threw his final pitch, the score remained 0-0.

Despite ending the first inning with two runners in scoring position and the third inning with the bases loaded, the Cardinal could not get on the board by the time they returned to bat in the fourth inning.

“We left a few runs on the table there but, you know, the offense isn’t really coming easy to us yet,” said Esquer.

Despite early struggles, the Cardinal got things going in the fourth inning. Junior infielder Brett Barrera got on base with a single and the next hitter, junior infielder Adam Crampton, took a four-pitch walk. The two baserunners would be enough for Santa Clara head coach Rusty Filter to retire starting pitcher Alex Reelfs for the day. 

Pitcher Nick Sando stepped in for Reelfs, but he walked sophomore outfielder Eddie Park in four consecutive balls. With the bases loaded and two outs, junior outfielder Brock Jones would get a chance to put the Cardinal on the board.

After being walked in his first two at bats, Jones faced a 3-1 count, and knew he would have a chance to swing.

The consensus preseason All-American rocketed a ball into deep right-center field, clearing the bases to give Stanford a 3-0 advantage.

With Uber done for the day, sophomore pitcher Joey Dixon stepped in to open the fifth inning. On his very first pitch, Broncos infielder Efrain Manzo managed a single down the left field line, putting pressure on Dixon. However, he responded by retiring the next three batters in as many pitches. 

In the bottom half of the inning, the Cardinal continued their offensive surge. Sophomore infielder Drew Bowser reached second base following an error from Santa Clara’s second baseman. Two-way freshman Braden Montgomery, who debuted against Cal State Fullerton with two home runs and six RBIs, came up to bat next. He singled, scoring Bowser and extending the Stanford lead to 4-0. 

The Cardinal did not stop there. With a line drive up the middle, Crampton sent Montgomery home to open up a five-run lead. 

Redshirt junior Cody Jensen, junior Quinn Matthews and Montgomery all stepped in as relief pitchers in the final three innings. Despite none of them allowing any hits, Esquer limited them to one inning. Regardless, their strong play enabled the Cardinal to prevail 5-0.

“Our pitching and defense has been there, and that’s what’s gonna be the foundation of this team,” said Esquer. “We’ll play with anybody if we can pitch and play good defense and give ourselves a chance.”

Next up, the Cardinal will head to Round Rock, Texas for the Round Rock Classic. They will face off against No. 2 Arkansas (2-1, 0-0 SEC), Louisiana (3-1, 0-0 Sun Belt) and Indiana (0-3, 0-0 Big Ten). Playing tough opponents, it will be a great early-season opportunity for the Cardinal to gauge where they currently stand in the college baseball landscape.

Stanford will first play Louisiana on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 11 a.m. PT at Dell Diamond.

Zach Zafran is the managing editor of the sports section. He is a sophomore from the Bay Area, who is majoring in Mathematical and Computational Science. Zach has previous experience reporting and writing with SFGATE, and you can find him around campus wearing swim trunks no matter the weather. Follow him on Twitter at @ZachZafran and contact him at sports 'at' stanforddaily.com.

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