Texas two-steps baseball

It felt like "Casey At Bat" over and over again for Stanford's sluggers, who sandwiched a Saturday win with two losses to Texas by a combined 11-3. One glimmer of hope as the team heads into a break for Finals: freshman righthander Jordan Pries now has two of the squad's three victories.

Stanford was able to snap its six-game losing streak last weekend against Texas, but still lost the series two games to one, falling to 3-8 going into the break for Finals.

The lone bright spot on the weekend was the Saturday game, which the Card took 7-1. Freshman righty Jordan Pries made his debut as a starter and was simply excellent over 7.1 innings, allowing just one run and three hits while striking out four and walking two. The bats also turned in a rare performance, delivering three home runs and two doubles among the ten total hits.

But this only served to remind Stanford fans (and the team itself) that while they have the offensive talent to be competitive, something clearly isn't working. This is a team that can hit for average, hit for power, lay down bunts and has good team speed. But, for some reason, they haven't been able to put it together for more than a few innings so far. It's not too late, but "too late" is somewhere on the other side of the break, if Stanford is to keep this season alive.

The weekend rotation has proved problematic as well. Junior Jeffrey Inman has shown his brilliance at times, but failed to put together a complete dominant outing in the first three weeks. Sophomore Danny Sandbrink and senior Max Fearnow have both struggled mightily and essentially pitched themselves out of the weekend slots for now. Pries seems to have earned himself a regular spot after Inman, and freshman Brett Mooneyham has pitched well, but will need to improve his control.

The season is by no means over, and the 3-8 record shouldn't be taken as too alarming yet, but this team clearly has a lot of work to do over the break.

Friday: Texas 6, Stanford 2

The weekend did not start well for Stanford, as Travis Tucker delivered a leadoff homer against Inman on the second pitch of the game to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead. Inman was hit hard throughout the inning, but managed to escape without allowing any more runs.

Texas broke through in the second, though, scoring three to take a 4-0 lead. Inman hit the first batter he faced and walked the third before allowing allowing a two-RBI single to Tucker. Stanford errors from sophomores Jake Schlander (SS) and Ben Clowe (C), and two more Longhorn hits led to another run, before Inman induced a pair of groundouts to end the inning.

Meanwhile, Texas starter Chance Ruffin held Stanford to just two runs on four hits while walking three and striking out seven to earn the complete-game win. The Cardinal never put together any sustained pressure, pushing across single runs in the fifth and sixth on an RBI single by Schlander and an RBI groundout by sophomore Kellen Kiilsgaard.

Inman managed to go just five innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits and three walks, while striking out four. Sophomre Alex Pracher pitched one shutout inning in relief and sophomore Carey Schwartz allowed a single run over two innings. Tucker finished the game 3-for-3 with three RBIs and two runs scored, but was forced to leave midway through the game after rolling his ankle. He did not return the rest of the weekend.

Saturday: Stanford 7, Texas 1

Pries responded to his opportunity to start by shutting the Texas offense down almost completely. Over 7.1 innings, he allowed just three hits and two walks. He was never in trouble and was able to get 22 outs while facing just 27 batters. Pries picked up the win to go to 2-0 on the year—he now has two of the team's three total wins. Sophomore Drew Storen finished out the game for the Card by allowing just two hits over the final 1.1 innings.

But perhaps even more impressive was Stanford's ability to score runs off Texas starter Brandon Workman.

Workman came into the game with a 0.00 ERA over two starts and 16 innings. Opposing batters were hitting just .042 against him. But Stanford wasn't intimidated.

After going down in order in the first, the Card managed two singles in the second and a double in the third before being sent down 1-2-3 again in the fourth. Considering Workman had allowed only two hits all year, getting three in the first three innings was a significant accomplishment.

Stanford broke through in fifth when junior outfielder Wande Olabisi—starting in place of the struggling Toby Gerhart—doubled, eventually scoring on a wild pitch. Sophomore Jonathan Kaskow led off the sixth with a homer and Stanford got two more that inning on RBI singles from sophomores Colin Walsh and Zach Jones. Jones and senior Jeff Whitlow added home runs later in the game to give Stanford the 7-1 win.

Sunday: Texas 5, Stanford 1

After Pries' success the day before, Stanford went with another freshman starter in left-hander Scott Snodgress, but he wasn't able to repeat the performance.

Snodgress struggled with control, possibly because of discomfort with his pitching hand that required attention from the trainer during the first inning. But, whatever the reason, he walked four and allowed two hits amounting to two fourth-inning runs to end his day. Mooneyham came on in relief and didn't fare much better, allowing three more runs before finally escaping the fourth and leaving Texas with a 5-0 lead.

Texas starter Cole Green mowed his way through the Stanford lineup with only one bump along the way: a monster home run to Kiilsgaard leading off the fifth inning. Other than that, Green was nearly unhittable, finishing the day with just one run and three hits allowed over seven innings. He walked two and struck out three.

Seniors Brandt Walker and Max Fearnow, and sophomore Michael Marshall combined to shut Texas out with 4.2 one-hit innings down the stretch, but the Stanford offense was unable to mount any sort of comeback.

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