No. 2 Stanford baseball (7-2, 0-0 Pac-12) defeated CSU Bakersfield (7-3, 0-0 Big West) 7-1 in the first game of a three games series on Friday afternoon. The Cardinal were led to victory by a quality start from senior left-hander Quinn Mathews, as well as home runs from junior infielders Carter Graham and Drew Bowser.
Mathews at times was not able to find the strike zone, as he had a season-high four walks and 117 pitches thrown, but nevertheless he had a fine day on the mound. Through his first five innings of work, he allowed at least one baserunner every inning, but none were able to score.
The Cardinal got to work early in the bottom of the first as they put up three runs before recording an out. Junior outfielder Eddie Park led off with a double down the left field line and wound up at third after the left fielder couldn’t field it cleanly. Junior infielder Tommy Troy then brought in Park with an infield single for the first run of the game, and he too picked up an extra base after a throwing error by the shortstop. In the next at-bat, Graham crushed a hanging slider for a two-run home run, which was his second of the season.
After recording two quick outs in the bottom of the second, senior infielder Owen Cobb reached first base on a softly hit ball to left field and then stole second base to put himself in scoring position. With the lineup turning over, Park then brought Cobb home with a hit that sneaked just past the third baseman and shortstop, which extended Stanford’s lead to 4-0.
Like in the bottom of the second, the Cardinal got another two-out rally going as Troy smoked a ball into left field for a single and then wound up on second after a stolen base. Carter then drove Troy home with a single up the middle, which extended the Cardinal lead even further to 5-0. Carter would finish the day going 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
Mathews only ran into real trouble in the top of the sixth. He gave up a single and then the next hitter reached base after an error by Cobb. Two batters later, redshirt junior catcher Angel Saldivar singled home a run to cut the Stanford lead 5-1. Mathews then induced two straight ground outs to limit the damage to just one run.
Mathews came back out in the top of the seventh inning which was a surprise to many, as he already had thrown over 100 pitches. The first batter he faced in the inning lined out to center field, and he then struck out the next batter. After this, the pitching coach came out, and it appeared Mathews was pleading his case to finish the inning after a long conversation on the mound but still was taken out for junior right-hander Brandt Pancer. Mathews’ final line was 6.2 innings, four hits (all singles), five strikeouts, four walks and just one unearned run.
In the bottom of the seventh, Stanford added to its lead. With one out, freshman catcher Malcolm Moore walked. Drew Bowser then stepped up to the plate. After a 1-1 count, Saldivar then went and had a conversation with junior left-hander Marcelo Saldana. The conversation was then extended when their opposing pitching coach also came out of the dugout to talk to Saldana. It did not matter what was said in this conversation because Bowser absolutely crushed the next pitch he saw over the trees in left field for his third home run of the season.
In the top of the eighth, Troy was taken out of the game after being hit by a pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning. This will be something to keep track of as Troy, who was on the 2023 Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list, is a big bat in the middle of the Cardinal lineup.
Graduate student left-hander Nicolas Lopez came in for the ninth inning to close out the game. After loading the bases with just one out, Lopez induced a game ending double play to seal the win for Stanford.
Up next, the Cardinal will host the second game of the three game series against CSU Bakersfield on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 P.M.