Stanford baseball advances past BYU in regionals

PALO ALTO — With one out in the sixth inning of Saturday’s NCAA Regional contest, Stanford baseball was in danger of stranding a third-straight leadoff baserunner in scoring position.

But after Cardinal right fielder Brandon Wulff knocked an RBI groundout, center fielder Jack Klein brought the home crowd to its feet for the first time with a two-out, two-run home run to left.

Behind a complete game from left-hander Chris Castellanos, Klein’s go-ahead long ball helped No. 1 seed Stanford beat the No. 3 seed Brigham Young University Cougars, 9-1, and avoid elimination. The Cardinal will play No. 2 Cal State Fullerton at 9 p.m.

“We couldn’t solve Castellanos and he did a great job,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “And then they were relentless one-through-nine in the lineup.”

Castellanos and BYU right-hander Maverik Buffo entered their starts coming off impressive outings. Castellanos limited Washington State to one run across eight innings in his previous appearance, while Buffo notched eight strikeouts over 8.1 frames against Loyola Marymount.

Both looked sharp early on.

Through the first four innings, each team managed just one hit. Buffo, who sported a 6.06 ERA during the regular season, prevented runs in the fourth and fifth despite allowing a pair of leadoff extra-base knocks.

“Everything felt good,” Buffo said. “I just wanted to … go right at guys, trust what’s called and trust that pitch. I didn’t want to go in there scared of them.”

Stanford broke through in the sixth through Klein’s home run and knocked Buffo out of the game in the seventh with a two-out single from shortstop Nico Hoerner. Then, left fielder Quinn Brodey and designated hitter Dan Bakst gave the Cardinal a 6-1 lead with back-to-back blasts against reliever Riley Gates.

Brodey delivered again in the eighth, looping a two-run single to shallow center. He went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs, extending his team lead in both categories.

As Stanford jumped in front, Castellanos continued to frustrate the Cougars. He allowed just four hits and one run in nine innings.

His lone mistake came in the fifth against BYU designated hitter Colton Shaver, who took him deep to left-center. Otherwise, Shaver said, “he was really good about locating his fastball in and out” to keep hitters off-balanced.

After inducing a game-ending fly out to center, Castellanos turned and hugged catcher Maverick Handley before receiving embraces from teammates entering the field from the dugout. While Buffo tossed 121 pitches in 6.2 innings, Castellanos needed only 111 pitches to finish his complete game.

“He doesn’t give you anything to hit, doesn’t throw anything over the plate and it’s a three-pitch mix,” Littlewood said. “[His] changeup is a game-changer.”

The win moved Stanford to 23-3 in its last 26 contests.

Dan Bernstein
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Dan Bernstein

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