In its first game of the inaugural Pac-12 Tournament, No. 1 seed Stanford baseball (39-14, 21-9) faced off against No. 8 Arizona State (26-31, 13-17 Pac-12) and won 6-3.
Head coach David Esquer started freshman pitcher Ty Uber, who has started in eight games this season. Both teams were able to keep hitters at bay through four innings, as the game remained scoreless. During the fourth inning, Esquer pulled Uber from the mound and replaced him with sophomore pitcher Drew Dowd.
However, Stanford struggled during Dowd’s reign on the mound. An error from third baseman Drew Bowser gave Arizona State its first run in the fifth inning. Then, in the sixth, Dowd gave up back-to-back hits, which induced RBIs and put Arizona State ahead at 3-1.
Bowser made up for his fifth inning error by hitting an RBI single to left field in the sixth inning to cut the Sun Devils’ lead to 3-2. Next, in the seventh, after junior shortstop Adam Crampton hit a single up the middle, junior outfielder Brock Jones hit a big fly to right field to give Stanford its first lead of the game, 4-3. Next inning, Bowser matched Jones by hitting a two-run home run himself, which put the Cardinal up 6-3.
After sophomore Ryan Bruno and junior Quinn Mathews came in for Dowd, the Cardinal did not give up any runs for the remainder of the game and survived a scare, 6-3.
Next up, the Cardinal played No. 4 seed Arizona (36-22, 16-14 Pac-12), a team that swept them during the regular season.
The Cardinal’s bats continued to hit for power in this game, a trend that has reared its head during the latter part of the season. Sophomore second baseman Tommy Troy hit a solo home run in the top of the second inning, a two-run bomb in the top of the 5th and an RBI double in the top of the 6th, which gave him four RBIs on the day. Bowser also had a multi-home run day, hitting a solo shot in the top of the second inning and a three-run big fly in the top of the seventh inning. Junior DH Brett Barrera joined in on the home run fest, hitting a solo homer in the top of the third inning.
In this game, Esquer decided to start the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Alex Williams, on the mound. Williams struggled by his standards in his appearance on the mound, as he gave up four earned runs, including three in the third inning. After 4.2 innings, Esquer pulled Williams and put in sophomore pitcher Tommy O’Rourke. O’Rourke pitched 2.1 innings before sophomore pitcher Brandt Pancer pitched the 7th-9th innings.
Through two games, it seems Esquer is trying to preserve his pitching staff’s stamina, as only one pitcher has pitched more than four innings.
Looking ahead, Stanford will play the winner of Arizona/Arizona State in the conference tournament semifinal. The Cardinal will have a bit of a cushion, as they will have to lose two games against their opponent to be eliminated from the tournament, while their opponent will be eliminated with just one more loss.
However, regardless of what happens in the tournament, Stanford is in prime position to host a regional and super-regional because of its regular season record.
First pitch in the conference semifinal is scheduled for 9 a.m. PT on Saturday. If a second game must be played, it is scheduled to begin at 4:45 p.m. PT.