By Steve Parkhurst
This weekend featured a premium matchup of top teams on the west coast as the Arizona Wildcats traveled north to Stanford, California to face the Stanford Cardinal in a Pac-12 weekend contest. College Baseball Nation had Arizona ranked #8 in the country with Stanford only four slots behind at #12.
The two teams wasted precious little time putting on a great show as Friday’s series opener went thirteen innings at Sunken Diamond.
Arizona got on the board first in the opening frame when Daniel Susac singled to right to drive in one run off of Stanford starter Brendan Beck.
The score remained 1-0 until the bottom of the fifth when a bases loaded walk tied the game.
In the sixth, Christian Robinson led off with a double, part of a 4-for-6 evening which included two doubles for the cleanup batter. Drew Bowser brought in the go ahead run with a double to left-center and a wild pitch shortly after put the Cardinal in front 3-1.
Back-to-back singles in the seventh by Arizona's Mac Bingham and Jacob Berry were part of a three-run inning in which the Wildcats regained the lead 4-3. Beck pitched into the seventh before being relieved with one out by Jacob Palisch. After giving up the one run in the first, Beck pitched five scoreless frames before the seventh.
An error at second base in the eighth led to Stanford tying the game, and after a scoreless ninth for both teams, they went to extra innings. Arizona ranks last in fielding percentage in the Pac-12, and defensive miscues cost the Wildcats throughout the weekend.
Neither team budged an inch until the bottom of the thirteenth when Brock Jones delivered for Stanford with a single to right-center that drove in the winning run in a 5-4 thirteen inning thriller.
The Cardinal bullpen threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings and only allowed a pair of hits, to go with ten strike outs.
Friday's opener lasted ten minutes into its fifth hour and ended Arizona's ten game winning streak.
Arizona came out swinging in Saturday’s middle-game of the series. A three run first was followed by a six run second and a three run third, at which point Arizona led 12-2. The two runs for Stanford came in the second inning when Nick Breuser hit his seventh home run of the year.
That was the final time the Cardinal scored a run in Saturday's drubbing.
Arizona dominated Saturday's game in every sense of the word. The Wildcats scored in seven of nine innings, and they scored multiple runs in five innings. Arizona scored three or more runs on five different Cardinal pitchers. Susac (4-for-5), Ryan Holgate (2-for-4), and Nik McClaughry (3-for-5) led the Wildcats offensively. Eight of the thirteen Wildcats who recorded an at-bat, got a hit. And half of those eight hitters had multiple hits.
Arizona batters were walked fifteen times on Saturday, breaking a Stanford pitching record from 2010 when their staff at the time walked thirteen batters against the Rice Owls.
Garrett Irvin (4-1) picked up the win as he pitched seven innings, surrendering just the two earned runs on Breuser's home run. Gil Luna pitched the final two frames to end the game and even up the weekend series with Sunday's game to decide the winner.
The last time the Cardinal had given up as many as twenty runs was just over thirty years ago, on April 28, 1991, when they again faced Arizona and the Wildcats took a somewhat closer game by a final of 21-11.
Stanford reliever Joey Dixon recorded the final four outs for the Cardinal and he was their only pitcher to not allow a run, he did not even allow a hit in his 1 1/3 innings while he struck out two. Arizona claimed the 20-2 rout to even up the weekend series.
Sunday's game had a decidedly different feel almost immediately.
In the bottom of the first, Robinson (2-for-4) delivered an RBI-single to put the Cardinal on the board first.
Arizona starter Austin Smith exited after just 3 1/3 innings having only surrendered the one run in the first.
The score remained 1-0 into the fifth when Stanford's Tommy Troy (2-for-4) hit a two-run home run to left field, his fifth home run of the year. Nick Breuser extended the Stanford lead in the sixth with an RBI double and an error by the Wildcats shortstop led to another run as Stanford led 5-0 going to the seventh.
Cardinal starter Alex Williams tossed six scoreless frames, allowing just three hits, a double in the third and two singles in the fifth. Williams also piled up six strikeouts in his outing.
After Stanford went to the bullpen, Arizona broke up the shutout in the seventh plating two runs on a Kobe Kato sacrifice fly and a Donta Williams single up the middle, cutting the Stanford lead to 5-2.
But Stanford answered right back, scoring once in the seventh on a passed ball, and then adding two more insurance runs in the eighth to take an 8-2 lead.
Zach Grech worked the final 2 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering three hits by the Wildcats as Stanford took the finale. Alex Williams earned the win to even his record at 1-1.
The weekend ended with Arizona 32-13 overall and 16-8 in Pac-12 play. Stanford is now 26-10 overall and 12-6 in Pac-12 action.