Quantrill leads Stanford to 8-1 win

Stanford provided Indiana State one gift opportunity to get to Cal Quantrill early, and Sycamores coach Mitch Hannahs found himself lamenting it after his team had fallen 8-1 to find itself in the losers’ bracket of the Bloomington Regional.

That opportunity came in the first, when Indiana State catcher Mike Fitzgerald hit a pop-up that should have ended the inning. Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino called off the rest of the infield for it, but he had to run up the pitcher’s mound and he tripped as he tried to field it, allowing Indiana State runners to go to second and third. 

Designated hitter Brian Romero roped a liner to right that seemed momentarily dangerous, but it settled in Stanford right fielder Zach Hoffpauir’s glove to end it.

“I felt like if that ball finds a home, it’s a whole different ball game at that point,” Hannahs said. “… I felt like in those early innings, if we’d have been able to crack (Quantrill) a little bit, it might have been able to change the game.”

Instead, the Sycamores never did crack Quantrill,  the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, and the right-hander struck out six batters while scattering four hits in a complete game. With the win, the No. 3 seed Cardinals will play the winner of today’s game between No. 1 seed Indiana and No. 4 seed Youngstown State at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The Sycamores play the loser of that game in an elimination game at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Quantrill, son of former major league reliever Paul Quantrill, knew as well that getting through that first inning was critical.

“It’s huge when you can pick up a teammate like that, it’s big, set a good tone in the game,” Quantrill said. “I left that change-up up that he hit for the third out there, but it’s good, it’s big. It’s tough to come back when you’ve got second and third.”

After Quantrill got Romero, he retired the next six hitters and faced one over the minimum in the next four innings. He gave up an RBI double to Indiana State right fielder Jacob Hayes in the sixth for Indiana State’s only run, but he allowed just one baserunner in the final three innings. He cruised through the seventh and eighth on a combined nine pitches and finished the game with a total of just 104. He threw 75 of those for strikes, sitting in the low 90s with his fastball and then fooling hitters with an outstanding change-up.

Quantrill threw first-pitch strikes to 26 of the 33 batters he faced.

“It’s good when you can get into a rhythm with first-pitch strikes,” Quantrill said. “I didn’t hit for long, but I know it’s hard when you’re 0-1 especially when you have a lead like that, it’s nice to get ahead of them, force them to hit it.”

It was Quantrill’s third straight win. He’s given up a total of two runs in 25 innings in those three games.

“The last half of the season, he’s been phenomenal,” Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. “… He’s pitched Friday night against some, not freshmen, some juniors and great pitchers, and he survived that and normally he gave us a chance to win. With the exception of two of the 15 starts, he gave us a chance to win.”

Quantrill was pitching with a lead from the beginning thanks to an RBI single in the first by right fielder Zach Hoffpauir. Indiana State left-hander Ryan Keaffaber kept the Sycamores close through the fifth with four scoreless innings after that, but the Cardinal got to him again in the sixth.

First baseman Danny Diekroger and third baseman Alex Blandino led off with singles and went to third and second respectively on a bunt by center fielder Austin Slater. After Hoffpauir was walked, Diekroger scored on a sacrifice fly by Stanford catcher Brant Whiting to make it 2-0.

The next batter, left fielder Jack Klein, jumped on a 2-1 change-up from Keaffaber and hit it over the left-field wall for a three-run home run to break it open and make it 5-0.

“He was using his change-up a lot and getting ahead with it,” Klein said. “… We knew that the change-up was a pitch he liked. In that second at-bat, I got one, and then that third one he just left a change-up up. I let it get deep and that was it.”

The Cardinal added three more runs on the ninth on RBI singles by second baseman Brett Michael Doran and shortstop Tommy Edman as well as a wild pitch that scored Doran. Indiana State got a runner to second in the ninth, but Quantrill retired the last two batters to finish the complete game.