|Spartans Beat No. 10 Stanford, 3-2|
STANFORD, Calif. – Michael Gerlach’s eighth-inning, two-out RBI single Tuesday allowed San Jose State to defeat No. 10 Stanford for the first time since 2007, as the Spartans won their seventh straight road game with a 3-2 win over the Cardinal at Sunken Diamond.
Two consecutive four-pitch walks with one out started the Spartans’ rally in the eighth. San Jose State (18-14) tried a double steal but had the lead runner thrown out, leaving Matt Lopez at second with two down. That’s when Gerlach sent a 2-0 pitch into center field, scoring Lopez and giving the Spartans the lead for good.
“I was just looking for a pitch to hit. He finally offered one and I took a good hack at it,” said Gerlach. “It was basically just ‘see ball, hit ball,’ in that situation, don’t try to do too much. Just stay through it and get on top.”
The win was the Spartans’ fourth in a row and eighth in their last 10 games. San Jose State’s previous victory over Stanford (22-10) came on April 24, 2007, with an 11-8 victory at Sunken Diamond.
“We felt it would be a low-scoring game. If we were going to win it, it was going to be a low-scoring game, which meant our pitchers had to be effective,” said San Jose State head coach Sam Piraro.
D.J. Slaton started things off for the Spartans (18-14) Tuesday with two perfect innings, striking out one. Drew Bradshaw relieved Slaton in the third and surrendered a double off the wall before giving up a two-run homerun by Alex Blandino to give Stanford a 2-0 lead.
The Spartans got a runner to third with one out in the fourth inning, looking to get a run back, but Mercurio was thrown out in a rundown trying to score on a chopper back to the mound, ending the threat.
SPARTANS RALLY TO TIE
San Jose State would kick up the rally again in the fifth, this time pushing across two runs to tie it. A leadoff single by Matt Lopez followed by a double from Kalei Contrades gave the Spartans two runners in scoring position with no outs. Gerlach drove a sacrifice fly to right field, and Lopez slid around the tag at home to give the Spartans their first run of the game.
The Spartans tried bunting home the tying run several times with both Kyle Gallegos and Tyler Christian, but were unsuccessful. Then after Gallegos was hit by a pitch and Christian got two strikes, Christian would swing away and single home the tying run. San Jose State would leave the bases loaded, keeping the game tied at 2-2 through five.
San Jose State threatened to take the lead in the sixth with back-to-back leadoff hits, but they stranded both of them, giving them five runners left on in the fifth and sixth.
“We had the momentum on our side, so I wasn’t doubting us in any way,” said Gerlach.
BULLPEN EFFECTIVE ONCE AGAIN
The Spartans used a total of seven pitchers Tuesday. Zack Jones earned his seventh save of the season with a two-inning outing. Kyle Hassna, Sean Martin, Jason Kafka and Contrades combined to throw six shutout innings and scatter three hits to close out the game.
“Stanford hit some balls hard. We knew they would,” said Piraro. “Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job of positioning guys. Pitchers threw the ball in the strike zone for the most part. To hold a team like this to two runs is hard to do. Our objective was to get to Jones with a lead – that’s what happened.”
Lopez was the offensive star once again with his third multi-hit performance in his last four games. Lopez went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, including the Spartans’ eventual game-winning tally. The top of the lineup for each team struggled Tuesday. The teams’ 1-2-3 hitters went a combined 0-for-24 with three strikeouts.
“I thought Matt Lopez, all night, had some great at-bats,” said Piraro. “He’s playing great for us right now. Gerlach had some wonderful at-bats. Contrades had some good at-bats. We did enough.”
San Jose State turns its focus to its second Western Athletic Conference series this weekend when it hosts Hawai’i in a three-game set at Municipal Stadium. The series begins at 6 p.m. Friday and continues Saturday and Sunday with 1 p.m. games.