No. 11 Stanford baseball (29-14, 15-9 Pac-12) swept its three-game series against the California Golden Bears (22-25, 11-15 Pac-12) over the weekend. With the sweep, the Cardinal have now won five of their previous six conference series.
Senior pitcher Alex Williams, the Pac-12 leader in earned run average (ERA), started for the Cardinal in Friday’s game. However, he ran into trouble in the first inning. Cal first baseman Nathan Martorella hit a single to right center to get on base, and after a strikeout, second baseman Hance Smith reached first following an infielder error, which also advanced Martorella to third. Then, designated hitter (DH) Caleb Lomavita hit into a fielder’s choice, which allowed Martorella to reach home plate. After allowing this run, however, Williams turned in a lights-out pitching performance, going 8.1 innings while allowing four total hits and two unearned runs throughout the game.
Feeding off Williams’ pitching, the Cardinal offense showed out early in the game. Sophomore first baseman Graham Carter closed Cal’s lead quickly, hitting a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning to knot the game at 1-1.
In the second inning, sophomore infielder Tommy Troy, who slotted in at DH for Friday’s game, hit a double to score sophomore left fielder Eddie Park from second base. Junior catcher Kody Huff hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the third inning to extend Stanford’s lead to 5-1. Do-it-all freshman outfielder Braden Montgomery added insurance to Stanford’s lead, hitting a single to score second baseman Brett Barrera from second base, which increased Stanford’s lead to 6-1.
Junior Quinn Matthews came in to relieve Williams in the ninth inning. Even though Matthews gave up one run, Stanford built a sizable lead that was too much for Cal to overcome. The Cardinal ultimately won 6-2.
The second game of the series had no shortage of in-game drama. Stanford head coach David Esquer decided to start sophomore pitcher Drew Dowd for the game. After retiring the lead-off batter, Dowd had a rough pitching stretch, allowing four straight hits, a walk, a hit-by-pitch, a passed ball and three runs. After this stretch, Dowd was replaced by sophomore relief pitcher Joey Dixon. For the remainder of the first inning, Dixon gave up an error and a double, which gave Cal a 6-0 lead. In the third inning, Cal got two runners on base with a pair of singles. The Golden Bears then used a pair of small ball moves, which included a fielder’s choice and bunt, to plate one more run and extend their lead to 7-0.
However, as seen previously this season, this Stanford team has the offensive firepower and fortitude to mount big comebacks. The Cardinal’s scoring started in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Huff hit a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 7-2. Stanford plated another run in the bottom of the fifth inning after an infield error. Park then hit a single in the bottom of the sixth inning to score Montgomery from third base. As a result of another infielder error, Stanford scored two runs to inch closer to Cal’s 7-6 lead. Then, junior shortstop Adam Crampton singled to right center to score Tommy Troy and tie the game at 7-7.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Montgomery led off with a double to left center and advanced to third base on an error. After Cal retired a hitter on a groundout, sophomore pinch hitter Alberto Rios drew a walk to get on first base. Cal then intentionally walked Park in order to position themselves for a double play. However, Crampton drew a walk with the bases loaded to win the game for Stanford 8-7.
The third game featured a great all-around performance from Stanford. The Cardinal put up double-digit runs, including home runs, sacrifice flies, singles and doubles. In addition, the team shut out the Golden Bears’ offense until the seventh inning.
Stanford got on top early in the game, earning a 5-0 lead through six innings. Even after a slight scare at the top of the seventh inning, Stanford added six more insurance runs to put the game out of reach for the Golden Bears. The Cardinal won the game 11-3 to clinch their first sweep against Cal since 2017.
Looking ahead, Stanford will play against the USF Dons in San Francisco before facing the Utah Utes (25-20, 10-14 Pac-12) in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal are looking to position themselves as a host for the super regionals, and losing to a mediocre Utah team could be a red mark on the team’s resume. First pitch against USF will be at 1 p.m PT on Tuesday, while first pitch against Utah is scheduled for 5 p.m PT on Friday.