Andrew Daschbach gave Stanford the early lead Saturday and another inch or so might have given the Cardinal a commanding lead. It didn't happen and fourth-ranked Stanford fell to host No. 3 Mississippi State 6-2 in the first game of the NCAA Starkville Super Regional at Dudy Noble Field.
Maverick Handley, Tim Tawa and Christian Robinson each finished with two hits and Robinson and Daschbach drove in runs. Stanford could not recover from six unanswered runs, however, by Mississippi State.
Duke Kinamon/Stanford Athletics
The Cardinal (45-13) took the early lead with a run in the top of the first. Handley singled, Brandon Wulff reached on an error and Will Matthiessen drew a walk, setting up Daschbach's bases-loaded sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. He had the distance for a home run but center fielder Jake Mangum brought it back with a perfectly-timed jump.
In the home half, starting pitcher Brendan Beck allowed a pair of singles but left fielder Kyle Stowers threw out a runner at third before Beck rung up Elijah MacNamee to end the inning and strand a runner at second.
Stanford had a chance to score with a pair of two-out singles in the second, but Handley flew out to the right-field warning track to end it.
The Bulldogs (50-13) tied it up in the home half as Josh Hatcher singled home Dustin Skelton with two outs, but Beck retired Mangum with a pair of baserunners on to limit the damage to one.
Stanford went down in order in the top of the third before the Bulldogs took the lead on a two-out, two-run double from Skelton, making it 3-1. Mississippi State tacked on three more runs in the fourth, putting two runners on with no outs to chase Beck from the game.
Zach Grech took over, getting Mangum to ground out before a fielders' choice made it 4-1. Tanner Allen's single up the middle plated another run and it became 6-1 on another fielders' choice on a softly-hit grounder to Tawa.
Stanford had a scoring opportunity in the fifth, putting a pair of two-out baserunners aboard before Matthiessen struck out to end the inning.
Cody Jensen entered to work the bottom half, striking out a pair as part of a one-two-three frame. Stanford put a runner on base with two outs but couldn't advance him past first base in the top of the sixth, but Jensen matched it with another scoreless frame, which ended on a terrific sliding play by Duke Kinamon on a ground ball up the middle which would have scored another run.
The Cardinal had another chance to score in the seventh as Stowers and Wulff reached base with walks, but Matthiessen hit a bullet right at the second baseman for the final out before Jensen headed out for a third inning of work.
Jensen struck out MacNamee to start the inning, but a runner reached second on a single and an error before the Cardinal turned to Austin Weiermiller. A walk and a fielding error loaded the bases but Weiermiller got an inning-ending ground ball to Kinamon to escape the jam.
Stanford fought back in the eighth with Kinamon and Tawa reaching on back-to-back singles and Robinson's two-out single scored Kinamon to make it 6-2.
Jacob Palisch worked a scoreless eighth inning; after the bases were loaded with two outs, Handley picked off Justin Foscue at first base for his ninth pickoff of the season.
Wulff roped a two-out double off the wall in left-centerfield in the top of the ninth but the next two hitters were retired to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three clash.