Baseball takes 4th in the Pac-10, off to CSF

Stanford lost two of three in a tough-fought series to No. 1 Arizona State, but no harm, no foul. The Card are the No. 2 seed to host Cal State Fullerton, as good of a regional draw as they could reasonably expect.

Arizona State 4, Stanford 2

The No. 3 Sun Devils took the series opener behind strong pitching performances from starter Seth Blair and relievers Mitchell Lambson and Jordan Swagerty. After allowing two runs over the first two innings, Blair got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth by getting Stephen Piscotty to fly out to right field. After giving up two singles in the fifth, he struck out Jake Schlander and Dave Giuliani to get out of that jam. He allowed only a single to Tyler Gaffney in the sixth, his final inning. Overall, the righty, who improved to 11-0 on the season, allowed two earned runs on eight hits in six innings, while striking out five and walking three on 115 pitches.

For Stanford, starting pitcher Brett Mooneyham also provided a strong outing, allowing three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings, while striking out seven and walking three on 135 pitches. He allowed a run in the second inning on doubles from Zach Wilson and Deven Marrero. In the third, he walked Kole Calhoun with two outs, allowing singles from Riccio Torrez and Wilson to drive in Calhoun. In the fourth, Raoul Torrez walked and eventually scored on a Zach MacPhee sacrifice fly, giving Arizona State a 3-2 lead. For the most part, Mooneyham held the best offense in the Pac-10 in check, allowing only two base runners over the next three innings, despite getting into deep counts.

Former walk-on Colin Walsh hit his team-leading seventh home run of the year to right field in the first inning. In the second inning, back-to-back doubles by Schlander and Dave Giuliani gave the Cardinal a 2-1 lead. However, the offense would not score the rest of the game, despite rallying in the fourth and fifth innings.

In relief of Blair, Lambson, who was making his team-leading 34th appearance, allowed only one base runner (on an error) in 2.1 innings. The righty Swagerty recorded the final two outs, getting his team-leading 13th save.

For Stanford, Brian Busick and Scott Snodgress combined to allow an unearned run over the final two innings. Gaffney was the only Stanford batter with two hits, but Walsh added two walks to his home run. Junior Zach Jones started behind the plate, but was hit on the hand on a bunt attempt in his first at-bat and was forced to leave the game. He ended up missing the rest of the series and his status for the rest of the season is unknown.

Stanford 5, Arizona State 2

Righty Jordan Pries allowed two earned runs on six hits, while striking out six and walking three over eight-plus innings, as the offense took the lead early, helping the Cardinal even the series. Pries faced four over the minimum during the first eight innings and was taken out after walking two batters in the ninth and having thrown 129 pitches. Alex Pracher allowed a two-out, two-run base hit to Raoul Torrez, the only two runs charged to Pries. All six hits that he allowed were singles, as he commanded both his fastball and slider to keep the Arizona State threats to a minimum. He seemed to follow a consistent formula for success throughout the game, pin-pointing his fastball on the outside corner to get ahead in the count, and not giving the hitters anything too good to hit for the rest of their at-bats. An Arizona State runner reached second base on only three occasions: in the second, fourth, and ninth innings.

An Eric Smith single followed by shortstop Drew Maggi's fielding error helped Stanford rally in the second inning. After Jake Stewart reached on a fielder's choice, Tyler Gaffney doubled down the left-field line on the first pitch he saw to give Stanford a 2-0 lead. In the fourth, Smith singled, advanced to second base on a ground out, then scored on a bloop single to center field by Stewart. After a Colin Walsh walk followed by a Stephen Piscotty double in the fifth, Walsh scored on a soft grounder to the shortstop by Ben Clowe. Stanford added their fifth run in the seventh inning when Clowe hit a sharp grounder that third baseman Raoul Torrez could not handle, driving in Gaffney.

Arizona State's Merrill Kelly, who had only lost once all season, allowed five runs (three earned) on 11 hits, while striking out four and walking one in seven innings. He, like Pries, also pitched pretty well, but a few timely hits by Stanford prevented him from keeping the offense at bay. The error in the second helped give Stanford the lead. Stewart fought off a low pitch in the fourth into center field, which was Kelly's first earned run. The soft grounder by Clowe in the fifth was also unlucky for Kelly. However, he did allow more base runners than Pries and was in jams in all but the third and sixth innings. For Stanford, Gaffney, Piscotty, and Clowe, who was batting fourth, all had two hits while Smith had three and scored two runs. For the Sun Devils, the Torrez brothers, Riccio and Raoul, each had two hits.

Arizona State 8, Stanford 6

Arizona State (47-8, 20-7 Pac-10) scored four runs in the final three innings, as relievers Mitchell Lambson and Jordan Swagerty shut the door in the eighth and ninth, helping the Sun Devils steal the series.

With Arizona State down 5-4 in the seventh inning with two outs, Jake Schlander's throwing error led to a two-run rally for the Sun Devils. After Raoul Torrez reached on the single, Xorge Carrillo and Drew Maggi both singled to load the bases. Then, Zack MacPhee singled to right field, giving Arizona State the 6-5 lead. Danny Sandbrink was replaced by Scott Snodgress, who hit Riccio Torrez with a pitch in the eighth. Snodgress was replaced by Alex Pracher, who allowed two more singles, giving the Sun Devils a two-run lead.

Stanford (31-23, 14-13 Pac-10) added a run in the bottom of the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Jake Schlander that plated Ben Clowe, but Arizona State got that run back in the top of the ninth when MacPhee scored on a Riccio Torrez double.

It was a tough loss for Stanford, as they took the lead with a three-run rally in the fourth. After Adam Gaylord, who hit a two-run homer in the second, flied out, four straight hitters reached base. Jake Stewart drove in Dave Giuliani with a single. Then, Tyler Gaffney reached on an error by the second baseman MacPhee, allowing Schlander to score. Finally, Colin Walsh hit an RBI sacrifice fly to left field, giving the Cardinal a 5-4 lead.

Freshman righty Dean McArlde allowed four earned runs on five hits in five innings for Stanford. Sandbrink allowed four hits in 1.2 innings and was the tough-luck loser, allowing two unearned runs.

For the Sun Devils, righty Jake Borup, who has only lost one game all season, allowed five runs (three earned) on five hits in four innings. Righty Brady Rogers, who had the second-best earned-run average in the Pac-10 entering the game (1.78) along with the third-best fielding-independent pitching (FIP) at 3.14 allowed one unearned run on one hit in 3.1 innings.

Overall, the Arizona State bullpen did not allow an unearned run the entire series, highlighting one of the reasons why they ended up as the Pac-10 champion. Leadoff hitter Drew Maggi hit two home runs and three hits total. Riccio Torrez went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Catcher Xorge Carrillo also had two hits.

For the Cardinal, Piscotty and Clowe each had two hits, while senior Adam Gaylord hit a home run in his final game at Sunken Diamond. Stanford finished the year with the fourth-best record in the Pac-10, behind Arizona State, UCLA, and Washington State.

Stanford is looking forward to participating in the regional playoffs and, with this competitive series, probably improved its standing. The Card will be a No. 2 seed to host Cal-State Fullerton, with New Mexico the No. 3 seed and Minnesota the No. 4 seed.

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