P Jordan Pries has lost four straight
In yet another showdown with a top-10 opponent, Stanford baseball came away with one win in a high-scoring three-game series at Arizona State last weekend. The No. 28-ranked Card (21-16, 6-9 Pac-10) are a pedestrian 5-4 in the last nine games, and coming off a slump before that, yet the Cardinal did not go down easy in Tempe.
For almost the entirety of Friday’s 12-10 loss, it seemed clear that the Card would emerge with the win. Sophomore righthander Mark Appel (3-5) started the night for Stanford, but ended up with the loss when ASU turned the game around in the seventh. Appel allowed seven runs over the seven-plus innings, but did become the first of five Stanford starters to throw in the eighth this season.
Stanford struck early in the game, putting up three runs in the third to gain a 3-0 lead with an infield single by sophomore center fielder Jake Stewart and a two-run single by sophomore utility Stephen Piscotty, who leads the Card in hitting and is fourth in the Pac-10 with a .366 average.
But the Sun Devils soon clawed their way back in to the lead, overtaking Stanford leads at three points during the night and sending Appel from the game with a two-run triple by Riccio Torrez and a sacrifice fly from Joey DiMichele, which put ASU ahead 6-4. Both Torrez and DiMichele had RBIs in the eighth to extend the lead to 12-5—a part of a hitting burst that scored six runs for the Sun Devils on the inning.
The Card rallied in the ninth, however, scoring five runs to nearly close the gap. Freshman outfielder Austin Wilson jacked a two-run homer, and senior catcher Zach Jones followed with a three-run home run to bring the Card to 10 runs, but ASU closer Mitchell Lambson halted the momentum there and closed it out.
In contrast to Friday, senior righthander Danny Sandbrink (3-0)’s stellar and lengthy pitching performance highlighted Saturday’s 6-4 Card win. Sandbrink had his longest career showing since his freshman year, completing the game with a five-hitter and a career-best eight strikeouts. It was the first time he threw past six innings since his NCAA Regional victory in 2008.
The senior allowed only one earned run and at one point retired eight consecutive batters in a game that defined by several errors from both sides. ASU scored twice in the first off of an error from Piscotty, while an error from Torrez in the fourth allowed Stanford to push ahead 4-2. A total of five hits and five runs for the Cardinal off of ASU starter Kramer Champlin (6-3) made it 6-3 by the eighth. Sandbrink gave one run back with a double, but then ended the eighth with a strikeout, and closed the game with a perfect ninth inning.
Sunday afternoon, ASU starter Jake Barrett (6-3) turned in a dominant performance en route to a 7-1 Devil victory.
Barrett struck out 10 and scattered seven Stanford hits to strand six runners in scoring position in eight innings, while Stanford starting senior righthander Jordan Pries (4-5) gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings. The loss was his fourth straight.
DeMichele produced most of the incredible hitting power for the Sun Devils, drivingin five runs with three home runs. A two-run blast in the first, a solo homer in the fifth, and a two-run shot in the seventh completed his stellar display, and Johnny Ruettiger and Austin Barnes reached the bases at key times to widen the lead.
The sole Stanford standout at the plate was sophomore outfielder Tyler Gaffney, who had a double and a triple in the contest. Following the triple, a wild pitch put Gaffney across the plate in the first for the Cardinal’s sole run.
Stanford is now 2-3 in Pac-10 series this year and returns to the Bay Area to take on San Jose State (30-16) at Municipal Stadium today before hosting Washington (13-27, 4-11 Pac-10) for next weekend’s three-game series. These four games should not pose as much of an obstacle for the Card as many of the recent showdowns, though the SJSU Spartans have still been putting up solid numbers so far this season.
The county rivals have won three out of their last four against Louisiana Tech and Sacramento State in recent weekends, and are batting .267 overall with a 4.23 team ERA and .977 fielding percentage. Danny Stienstra is expected to be Stanford’s greatest threat, as the senior infielder leads the team with 39 RBIs and a .366 average. Jacob Valdez adds a .314 average to the lineup, and Zack Jones, of no relation to the Stanford catcher, has nine saves and a 1.93 ERA.
Losers of seven of their last 10, Washington will face the Cardinal for the first time this year. Recently swept by UCLA and Cal, the Huskies are in the Pac-10in hitting (.254), team ERA (4.76) and the standings. Nonetheless, team standouts Joe Meggs and Jacob Lamb have produced impressive numbers, with Meggs leading the club with a .355 average and Lamb posting a .331 and team-best 21 RBIs.
Still, if the Stanford rotation can silence these bats and generate enough action from Piscotty and the other leaders at the plate, the Cardinal should hold its own.
First pitch today is at 6 p.m. at Municipal Stadium, and the series with the Huskies begins with a 6 p.m. Friday Fireworks Night.
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