STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford evened the weekend -- and season -- series with California on Friday behind freshman ace Tristan Beck, who struck out eight of the first nine Golden Bears he faced, as the Cardinal cruised to a 5-1 win.
"He was pretty good," said Cal senior designated hitter Devin Pearson, who went 2-for-4, getting two of the Bears' three hits off of Beck in his 7.0 shutout innings of work. "He had a plus change up and a plus curveball. We were trying to attack fastball when we got it, and sat back on off speed, but he's really good. He had a lot of movement. I liked how we competed against him, in all honesty. We weren't afraid of him."
Beck didn't walk a single batter, throwing 107 pitches -- 66 for strikes -- and lowering his ERA to 1.87, and upping his record to 5-4.
"He had four pitches he was throwing for strikes," said head coach David Esquer.
Cal (25-17, 11-12 in Pac-12) did, however, work him into eight three-ball counts.
"He struck out eight of the first nine, and at some point, we started to run his pitch count up, see if we can try to get him out," Esquer said.
After the fourth, Beck struck out just one more, as the Bears did square up quite a few balls against the 6-foot-4, 160-pounder. In the top of the fourth, Mitchell Kranson stung the seventh pitch h saw from Beck on a line, but right at center fielder Jack Klein. Second baseman Robbie Tenerowicz then rolled a single up the middle, and with two outs, Pearson did the same. First baseman Nick Halamandaris, though he hit a frozen rope to center, saw that ball hang up just long enough for Klein, ending the inning.
"That's just baseball," Pearson said. "That's frustrating, but that's the way the game goes."
In the very next inning, Klein added to the three runs on three hits that the Cardinal had gotten against starter Matt Ladrech in the bottom of the first with a two-out, two-run home run to left, cashing in a leadoff single by Quinn Brodey.
"Ladrech didn't have his change up today, and got beat on a 2-0 fastball," Esquer said. "If Ladrech is giving up home runs and throwing 2-0 fastballs, he's not going to be very successful in college baseball. His lack of change up today is a concern."
In the first inning, after two straight one-out singles by Nico Hoerner and Tommy Edman, Alex Dunlap sent a line shot off the glove of shortstop Preston GrandPre and into center to load the bases. Brodey then ripped a shot through the legs of Halamandaris at first for a pair, and then a sacrifice fly by Duke Kinamon brought in the third run.
"They jumped us right at the start," Esquer said. "Just a couple plays that we normally make, and a couple pitches that we normally make, they got three, and you give that guy [Beck] three, and he's able to relax and pitch with a little ease, and use all his pitches without really a whole lot of fear."
Ladrech was moved up from the back game of the series in order to give Tanner Dodson a full week of rest, must as Stanford does for Beck, Esquer said.
In the top of the seventh, with Beck waning, the Bears looked to have found a crack, with an infield single by Pearson, who then stole second on a broken hit-and-run play, and advanced to third on a groundout by Halamandaris. A rocket shot off the bat of Brenden Farney hit off of Beck's plant leg, and ricochetted right to first for the final out of the inning, stranding Pearson at third.
"I actually thought, offensively, we played better than the scoreboard shows," Esquer said. "We squared quite a few baseballs, and got a few good at-bats. We didn't get anything to show for it. Farney hits the one off his leg, a couple other line outs on the infield, and in the outfield, who knows? Not much to show for it, but something to build on. We're not walking away from this game with our tail between our legs."
In the Bullpen
Junior righty Alex Schick flashed a sharp curve and an explosive fastball in 1.1 hitless innings of work out of the bullpen, with one walk and one strikeout.
In all, Cal's bullpen threw 4.0 scoreless innings, allowing a total of two hits. Righty Jeff Bain went 1.0 inning, with one walk and one strikeout, allowing one double. Lefty Akaash Agarwal continued his strong stretch of relief work, retiring two of the four batters he faced, before being relieved by Schick. In his last four outings, Agarwal has gone 3.2 innings, with no runs allowed.