In the second of game of the weekend series, No. 5 Stanford (23-5, 9-2 Pac-12) jumped on Washington (15-14, 5-9 Pac-12) early and held on to a 3-2 victory at Sunken Diamond on Saturday night.
Junior RHP Will Matthiessen (2-1, 4.03 ERA), working in his second career start and first in a weekend series, struck out the first seven batters of the game to set a new career high.
“The nerves were there a little bit more than usual, and the adrenaline was pumping,” Matthiessen said.
Matthiessen would add two more strikeouts and match a career high four innings, allowing two earned runs on four hits and a walk. The nine strikeouts are tied for the second most by a Cardinal pitcher this season, and Stanford matched its season-high output of 14 strikeouts on the night.
“I don’t think I’ve ever struck out nine people,” Matthiessen said. “That was fun.”
“The strikeouts are the first thing that hit you over the head,” said Stanford head coach David Esquer. “It was encouraging to see where he came out as a starter.”
Three straight Cardinal athletes were on board in the bottom of the first, between singles from junior center fielder Kyle Stowers (.259/.343/.424) and junior catcher Maverick Handley (.275/.367/.385), and a walk drawn by senior left fielder Brandon Wulff (.245/.374/.543). Stowers scored on a Jordan Jones (2-3, 5.40 ERA) wild pitch during Matthiesen’s at bat, which resulted in a pop out. Junior first baseman Andrew Daschbach had a hit robbed by a diving play from Braiden Ward at second base, but Handley scored from third.
“It was big to get two and not just a one there,” Esquer said.
Matthiesen ran into some trouble in the second inning, when a pair of Huskies, Connor Blair and Jonathan Schiffer, hit doubles. Ben Baird added a single, and the Huskies escaped with two runs in the one inning Stanford’s defense was breached.
The Cardinal’s one-two combination at the top of the lineup once again produced in the bottom of the third, with a walk of Stowers and a single from Handley. Wulff skied a ball 116 feet in the air and to the warning track for a game-winning sacrifice fly. Matthiesen singled to advance runners to the corners, but they would be stranded there. After just three innings, Stanford had scored all of its runs and would record just two more hits.
“We’re still trying to find some rhythm offensively,” Esquer said. “We’re not as relentless as we need to be if we’re going to be the team we want to be.”
Sophomore LHP Jacob Palisch (2-1, 5.24 ERA) relieved Matthiesen in the top of the fifth, a reversal of roles from a week ago. Palisch pitched a clean inning and, though he allowed a hit to lead off the sixth, he pitched three innings of one-hit baseball, adding two strikeouts.
“Giving Palisch a different look from the bullpen, where he was all last year, may be a key for him,” Esquer said.
“It was awesome,” Matthiessen said. “He came out of the bullpen last year and was extremely successful and so it looked like he was right back at home.”
Jones sat eight Cardinal hitters down, in order, before Matthiesen roped a one-out single into center to chase him. In 5.1 innings, Jones struck out seven, walked two, allowed five hits and was charged with seven runs.
“Jones did a nice job of settling in after that first inning,” Esquer said. “I thought we were in for a little bit of a better offensive showing than we had, but he settled in and made some pitches in big spots.”
Matthiesen finished 2-3 with a walk as he continues to pace the team in batting average, on base percentage, doubles and RBI.
“It might not look like we had a good night, but I definitely feel like we put some good at-bats together,” Matthiesen said.
Junior RHP Jack Little entered in the top of the eighth inning with an opportunity for a six-out save. He got Nick Kahle (.426/.565/.670) out for the first time in the game with a fly out to end the eighth inning. Returning in the ninth, Little struck out the side for his seventh save of the season.
“A sign of a good team is you can win a number of different ways,” Esquer said. “We’ve been able to win with pitching and defense and sometimes we’ve won because our offense has given us a little gap.”
The five hits allowed by Cardinal pitching are tied for the third fewest this season.
“Coach [Thomas] Eager does an outstanding job of preparing for a game plan, and [the pitchers] executed tonight,” Esquer said, sharing the credit on his birthday. “Coach [Jack] Marder and Coach [Tommy] Nicholson do a good job positioning our guys.”
Junior LHP Erik Miller (3-0, 2.78 ERA) will toe the rubber opposite a Golden Spikes watch list nominee in Josh Burgmann (3-1, 2.29 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Sunday at Sunken Diamond.
Contact Daniel Martinez-Krams at danielmk ‘at’ stanford.edu.