With four innings completed at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, neither side had registered a hit. Stanford’s Will Matthiessen responsible for half of that because he diced against the Arizona State (37-16, 16-12 Pac-12) lineup. His right arm had as much influence on the contest as his bat.
The Cardinal’s cleanup hitter started the fifth inning with a high fly ball to right field. At first, it appeared Carter Aldrete prepared to camp underneath. The right fielder kept taking another step back, further and further, until the first hit of night dropped into the ASU bullpen for a home run.
Matthiessen’s bat stayed hot. Stanford (40-11, 21-7) finally pushed Sun Devil starter Brady Corrigan out in the sixth after a pair of singles. ASU head coach Tracy Smith put RJ Dabovich on the rubber, the arm Smith has established as his go-to in tight moments.
With two outs, Dabovich now faced his counterpart Matthiessen with two on in a one-run game. The righty fell behind 2-0 to the game’s only run producer thus far, Dabovich then challenged him with a 93 mph fastball. Matthiessen knew it was coming, he drove it toward the wall in center for a two RBI double.
The tone of the game was set from that point. Despite Gage Workman’s two-run blast in the ninth, ASU crafted no late-inning magic as it had on Thursday. And Stanford evened the regular season’s last series with a 6-4 win.
“Matthiessen beat us a couple of ways,” Smith said. “I didn’t think we were real competitive offensively early in the game. When you’re going against a good pitcher, good opponent, you can’t give at-bats away.”
The Stanford starter finished 5.2 innings having allowed two hits and one run with six strikeouts.
On the pitching side, Matthiessen’s first hit allowed was also a home run, well not at first. Aldrete led off the sixth inning with a ball that bounced back from right-center field wall. Initially, the call on the field had Cardinal center fielder Christian Robinson bringing the ball back without making the catch.
Smith asked the umpire crew to discuss the play, after a huddle second base umpire Heath Jones signaled “home run.”
B6: Crazy sequence here. Carter Aldrete sent a fly ball off the top of the wall in right. At first, it was ruled a double. But then the umps came together and said that the ball hit the wall, *then* the scoreboard, ruling it a home run to make it 4-1 Stanford. Here's a look: pic.twitter.com/sf2jJZr2oa— Jack Harris (@Jack_A_Harris) May 25, 2019
Lin Lyle homered later in the contest as well, but with only five hits and three of them being via the long ball from Aldrete, Workman and Lin, the offense went down quietly.
“Offense didn’t do our side tonight,” Workman said. “He’s low percentages to win if you’re down four or five in the ninth. We did last night, and we got a couple tonight, it’s tough to do that every single night.”
Stanford’s left fielder Kyle Stowers put together two RBI and first baseman Andrew Daschbach added a RBI double.
Corrigan gave more than Smith and others had wanted out of him. He allowed three runs in 5.2 innings of work, two of them were off the double Dabovich allowed. With his performance he might have filled his name in a slot for a potential Regional start next week if called upon.
“Kinda what Skip said at the end, you got all your pitches going toward the end to postseason. Just play it by ear, whatever the team needs, going to be ready for next weekend,” Corrigan said.
Smith on his third conversation with first base umpire Jake Uhlenhopp — first one was the home run call and then a discussion on a close play where Aldrete was thrown out at first on a back pick — was thrown out. Smith quickly emerged from the Sun Devil dugout to argue a near double play when the runner at toward first was ruled safe. Stanford’s head coach David Esquer also had a few conversations with the crew, an overall tough night for the blues.
The teams’ regular season finale will be on Saturday with first pitch slated for 12:00 p.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.