Colton Shaver gets congratulated after his solo homer in the fifth inning on Saturday in a 9-1 loss at No. 8 Stanford. (Photo by BYU Photo/Jaren Wilkey)
STANFORD, California (June 3, 2017)— No. 8 Stanford belted three home runs to knock No. 26 BYU baseball from the NCAA region tournament on Saturday, 9-1 at Sunken Diamond.
The Cougars ended their season with a 38-21 record, tying for the ninth-most wins in school history. Stanford improved to 42-15, giving its retiring coach Mark Marquess at least one more game in his stellar 41-year career at Stanford, his alma mater where he roomed with future BYU graduate Mitt Romney as collegians.
BYU gave Marquess and the Cardinal a better game, at least for six innings, than the spread of a 9-1 score.
“I don't feel like the score was indicative of how good that game was,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “Maverik (Buffo) gave us a chance to win, but we couldn’t solve (Chris) Castellanos. He didn't give us anything to hit. His changeup is a game-changer and he was a bulldog out there."
One of the few mistakes Castellanos made was to designated hitter Colton Shaver in the fifth inning.
“He missed one pitch on me the entire day and I got a barrel on it,” Shaver said.
Shaver worked the full count of curves to his advantage, knocking his 13th homer (second of the tourney) over the left center fence in the fifth for a 1-0 Cougar lead. He gave Maverik Buffo a short cushion from which to work.
Earlier, Buffo avoided being tarnished in the second inning after hitting a batter and giving up a full count walk with two out. He had recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the first and start the second frame.
BYU got its first baserunner of the afternoon when Brock Hale got aboard on a throw from third base, which pulled the first baseman off the bag. Hale made a successful delayed steal to second before Stanford recorded a pair of strikeouts to end the second.
A superb timed leap by second baseman Brian Hsu prevented the Cardinal from scoring after leadoff triple in the fourth. The Cardinal advanced another runner to third in the next frame, prompting a mound visit from Littlewood in the fifth after five straight balls, but Buffo escaped that jam too, getting the third out of both innings on fly balls to Hale.
Stanford tied the score in the sixth, then took a 3-1 lead on a two-out home run to left field by Jack Klein, grandson of the late Cardinal player/philanthropist for whom the field and press box are named.
After 121 pitches, Buffo was relieved by Riley Gates to finish the seventh with a runner aboard and two out. Gates was quickly replaced by Keaton Cenatiempo after he surrendered back-to-back homers, expanding the Cardinal lead to 6-1.
Bo Burrup replaced Cenatiempo with another short stint before Jordan Wood stopped the three-run eighth.
“This is a special group of guys,” Littlewood said. “To break through like this team did is rewarding. I’d take their will and determination over any team I’ve ever had.”
See this link for NCAA regional photos from Saturday's BYU action: and this BYU photo essay: