#5 Stanford (46-12) lost a tough 5-2 contest to Cal State Fullerton (35-23) the Sunday before last at Sunken Diamond, in what was a bittersweet finish to a strong season for first year head coach and PAC-12 Coach of the Year David Esquer. In spite of the final result, the former Cardinal shortstop and member of the ’87 National Championship team had a positive message for both his squad, and the Stanford faithful.
“This team was never short on heart or effort. There were so many great wins and moments all year, moments that will never be taken away from us. I am excited to continue moving forward with this program, and there is no doubt in my mind that this group will be hungry for the future.”
Though the end was disappointing, Stanford claimed their first PAC-12 Championship since ’04, and is clearly a program on the rise within the ranks of college baseball. Nothing proves that more than the five players the team recently had selected in the 2018 MLB Draft, along with the wealth of post-season awards which have already been received up and down the lineup. Furthermore, and far more important in a worldly sense, fourteen Cardinal players were named to the PAC-12 All-Academic team.
In regard to ‘The Bigs’, Stanford’s junior Shortstop Nico Hoerner was selected in the 1st round (24th) by the Chicago Cubs, and junior pitcher Kris Bubic was selected in the Competitive-Balance Round (40th) by the Kansas City Royals. Both were All-PAC-12 selections for the past two seasons. Hoerner batted .345 on the year with 40 RBI, leading the team in runs scored (45), as well as being second in total bases (115). Bubic’s numbers on the hill were equally impressive. He finished at 8-1 with a 2.62 ERA, led the team in strikeouts (101), and held opponents to a humble .199 batting average.
Also going in the MLB Draft, fellow junior pitcher Tristan Beck was taken in the 4th round (112th) by the Atlanta Braves. Beck earned All-PAC-12 honors each season he pitched for the Cardinal, and closed the ’18 campaign at 8-4 with a 2.98 ERA, punching out 73 batters. In the later rounds, infielders Beau Branton (Seattle Mariners - 28th) and Duke Kinamon (New York Mets - 34th) also earned the chance to live out their childhood dreams.
In terms of total team success under Coach Esquer on The Farm this spring, nine Cardinal players were selected All-PAC-12. Of equal future value, sophomore closer Jack Little was named District 9 Player of the Year, while Brendan Beck, Jacob Palisch, and Tim Tawa were all named Freshman All-America by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
In short, the future looks extremely bright at Sunken Diamond, and Stanford will not be sneaking up on anyone in 2019. For the here and now though, the Cardinal and PAC-12 fans everywhere will be hoping for a quality showing for the conference as #3 Oregon State and Washington both play for the College World Series June 16th - 27th.
So, good luck and best wishes to the Beavers, but especially to My Aunt Sally and Cousin J’s Huskies. From what I hear, they are fired up about some baseball in ‘The Pacific Northbest’.