Surging Stanford Pieces It TogetherWeekend Spotlight
PHOENIX, Ariz. — Back in the fall, Stanford coach Mark Marquess was brimming with optimism about his team’s prospects heading into his 41st and final season on the Farm. He was confident that his offense was poised to take a big step forward after struggling in 2016, and he said his roster was deeper than it had been in years, both on the diamond and on the mound. And of course, he had a pair of premium talents book-ending his pitching staff in ace Tristan Beck and closer Colton Hock.
As it turned out, that depth was put to the test, because the Cardinal has had to cope with its share of injuries — none bigger than Beck’s stress fracture in his back. The draft-eligible sophomore righthander is a bona fide first-round talent, but he hasn’t thrown one inning this season and won’t return to action before the season is over. Yet somehow Stanford has managed to live up to Marquess’ high hopes even without him. Veteran catcher Alex Dunlap has been sidelined for the last five weeks with a broken bone in his hand, and freshman Maverick Handley has had to develop on the fly behind the plate, but that hasn’t slowed down the Cardinal either. Third baseman Mikey Diekroeger has been sidelined recently with a dislocated shoulder — a recurring issue for him — but still Stanford has kept on winning.
In fact, Stanford reeled off an 11-game winning streak before dropping Sunday’s series finale at Arizona State. With 12 wins in its last 13 games, highlighted by a road sweep of Oregon and a home sweep of powerful Arizona, Stanford has played its way into national seed position in our latest field of 64 projection. All without Beck and Dunlap, two of the team’s most important players.
“It happens to everybody — you have injuries. But we’ve had a good run, and hopefully we’re positioned to finish strong here,” Marquess said after Sunday’s series finale at ASU. “In our conference, to win two back-to-back series and then the first two here, eight in a row, is hard to do in the league. We’ve really played well in that streak. Sometimes we didn’t hit that well but we pitched well, and then we really hit well at Oregon, probably the best we’ve hit. Then here the first two games we’ve hit well. They’ve worked hard for it. We’ve had a couple injuries, a couple different guys, but we’re adjusting. So we’re happy with it.”
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