All smiles for the Cardinal, who sweep the Sun Devils out of town
Stanford didn't wait nearly as long to rally from a deficit Sunday as it did to win game two and cruised to a 10-3 victory and the series sweep over Arizona State.
Stanford (27-5, 9-3) fell behind 2-0 in the top of third when the Sun Devils got a two-RBI double by Gage Canning. The Cardinal waited all of a few minutes to strike back in the bottom half of the frame.
ASU starting pitcher Eli Lingos had five strikeouts through two innings and there were a lot of swings and misses by Cardinal hitters. Stanford No. 9 hitter Alec Wilson led off the third inning with a perfect bunt single. He moved to second when Beau Branton's bunt forced a bad throw by Lingos to first.
Nico Hoerner scored Wilson on a fielder's choice after another bunt moved everyone 90 feet. Small ball strategy was made unnecessary when Andrew Daschbach ripped the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for his 10th home run of the season and for the second straight game.
Stanford starter Erik Miller (2-2) pitched around a runner on second with one out in the top of the fourth and the Cardinal kept the pressure on a shaky Sun Devils defense. Maverick Handley scored when shortstop Drew Shift fielded Christian Robinson's infield single and missed the first baseman.
Wilson doubled home Robinson and later scored on a sac fly by Branton.
Miller's fifth inning was his cleanest: He struck out Swift and then got ground outs from Canning and Spencer Torkelson, ASU's two best hitters.
Stanford loaded the bases in the sixth inning when Matthew Decker was walked, Robinson roped a double and Branton walked. Nico Hoerner smacked a two-out double to score Decker and Robinson, giving the Cardinal a very secure 8-2 lead with freshman Jacob Palisch on the mound.
Stanford added two more runs in the seventh with the help of another fielding error by the Sun Devils. ASU committed three Sunday while the Cardinal played another clean game.
Stanford also showed its superior depth with the contributions of Decker, Robinson and Wilson throughout the weekend. The bottom four of the lineup, including Handley, each scored two runs Sunday. Robinson and Wilson each had doubles and RBI.
After the series loss in LA the team won four straight: "I thought it was a big bounce back week for us. We still have things to improve on. I mentioned yesterday's win being a little humbling. There are still some things we can do better, but a good performance by our guys coming out. We've used a lot of different lineups and a lot of different players. Those guys have come in and contributed. Alec Wilson, Christian Robinson and Matt Decker -- some new names have been out there and we're still looking for some ... different people we can go to as things get further on with matchups or injury."
Alec Wilson's weekend with career high three RBI Saturday and another Sunday: "We've been waiting for Alec to relax and be the same player he has been in practice. He has shown us what he can do. It's a comfort level and it happens at different stages for different players. We haven't lost confidence in him because we'll keep putting him out there until he gets comfortable. He did that this weekend."
You started the weekend a little concerned about the bottom of the order and they stepped up: "We needed to elongate that batting order a little bit. Certain guys have been struggling and by no means are we giving up on Jesse Kuet. He has been the glue of this program for more than a year and the reason we've had success. But if certain guys struggle you want to make sure you have a few other guys waiting in the wings to go. We went back to Alec Wilson. There will be guys who continue to get chances. Christian Molfetta and Bryce Carter, they'll get those opportunities as well. We've stretched our bench a little bit by giving other guys an opportunity and watching them perform well. Nick Brueser has had opportunities to go out there and play. He's comfortable in a game. I think our bench has been pretty clear for us."
Robinson is a freshman, so how different is he now compared to the start of the season?
"He was not ready to play at the start of the season. He probably was pretty far away and there was a big gap as far as him being ready to compete at the level. We've asked him to work while he waited and he really has. He's worked and worked and worked. He got himself close and where he's in a spot where he is really competitive and can perform now. That's a testament for any young player or freshman, not everyone is ready to play out of the gates. It took him watching 20-25 games and working while he waited to get himself where he could contribute. He's doing a great job."
Erik Miller got through five innings today. What did you think of his performance?
"Getting him some confidence and success was important. Getting through five innings was big. We're continuing to look into ways he can better attack hitters and refine his stuff, where he doesn't paint himself into a corner and be predictable. I think he's doing a better job of that and landing some of his offspeed pitches more often."
Most of the pitchers looked back to their usual selves this weekend, so they seemed back on track: "After taking that punch to the stomach last week when they didn't have the comfort level that they've had, to watch them come back out here and pitch with more comfort is big. You have to see that. If there's a failure you step back and you readjust. To see some success after that is a big sign of growth."
Matthew Decker and Christian Robinson
How the team bounced back from the UCLA series:
Decker: "It was tough at UCLA. We didn't pitch very well; we didn't hit very well. Guys weren't really themselves. It was good to get back here. We're comfortable here and we know we can play really, really well. Guys were ready to bounce back."
Christian, the theme all year has been every guy on the roster has to be ready. What was the patience it took to be ready?
"Absolutely. The main thing we talk about is working while you wait. We have the philosophy this year that it's the next guy up. It really has just been that to try to do what you can each day to get better. Be ready when your name is called."
How much progress have you made since the beginning of the season?
Robinson: "I think I've definitely made a lot of progress, especially defensively. I think getting the reads in the fall games ... has made me a much better defender."
Matthew, talk about your two days at the plate: "As a guy who doesn't get very many at-bats I knew they were going to attack me with fastballs. I was trying to be ready for fastballs. One thing over ... these five years is that I've always been pretty nervous, pretty anxious, up there. God willing I was really calm and present and I felt like I could be quick and handsy with my swing. I saw a fastball I tried to swing at it."
Christian, what has the veteran influence been on this team, such as Decker, Nico and Beau Branton?
"The biggest thing is that from the first day here they really made us feel at home, especially this guy. He does a great job talking to you when you need it. Sometimes you're a bit down. He's a guy I look to to get me focused."
Matthew,in terms of the chemistry is this an exceptional team?
"Yeah, it is. It really is. We have some stars -- we have Nico, Dasch and some really good arms -- but this is the first time we haven't really had a superstar. All the past couple years we've had the one guy who was preseason consensus everything and that has really helped us. Everyone came in knowing that we were going to be good, but everyone had to play well and to their ability for us to have success. We're having a bunch of fun. This is the most fun I've had playing baseball. I think it's that everyone has to play their part for us to win and everyone is buying into it."