Patience paid off for the Stanford baseball team Sunday as the Cardinal opened Pac-12 Conference play with a doubleheader sweep of visiting USC, 4-2 and 3-2.
Stanford (2-0, 15-2) and the Trojans meet Monday at 4 p.m. in Sunken Diamond to complete the three-game series.
Cardinal players were forced to wait an extra 24 hours to get back on the field after two weeks off for final examinations. The extra time off seemed to benefit starting pitchers Mark Appel and Brett Mooneyham, each of whom pitched deep into their starts to earn victories.
Appel (3-1) went the distance in Game 1, taking a shutout into the ninth inning and finishing with a six-hitter. Mooneyham (5-0) allowed a run on six hits over seven innings in the nightcap before handing the ball off to David Schmidt, who threw two innings for his second save.
Sophomore Austin Wilson, denied a chance to drive in runs in the seventh, delivered a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth as the Cardinal came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the first game.
"Previously in that game, in my third at bat, I had a chance to break open the game and I missed that pitch," Wilson said. "When it was a 1-1 count, he threw me that same pitch and I put a good swing at it and it went over the fence."
Wilson also added a double in the nightcap.
"I feel like I'm more consistent now," Wilson said. "The night games I'm struggling here and there nut the day games I'm putting good swings on the ball. Hopefully I can figure that out and do some damage on Friday."
Tyler Gaffney certainly put two and two together in the twinbill. The sophomore outfielder had two hits in the first game and added two hits in the second game. He also swiped a couple of bases.
Gaffney reached base safely in six of eight plate appearances on the day and added a sliding catch for the second out in the ninth of Game 2.
"Lately it's been a grind," Gaffney said. "I haven't been swinging the bat as well as I've wanted to, but I come out here and keep it simple: see ball, hit ball."
Appel walked two and struck out seven while throwing 77 of his 113 pitches (.681) for strikes. USC's Andrew Triggs also went the distance, throwing 68 of his 100 pitches through the strike zone. Their efficiency led to a 2:08 time of game.
"They threw a lot of strikes and kept the game moving," Gaffney said. "The first game went by in a blink of an eye."
Menlo School grad Kenny Diekroeger drove in a pair of runs in the first game and doubled in the second game.
Women's water polo
Kiley Neushul scored four goals as second-ranked and defending national champ Stanford beat host UC Santa Barbara, 12-2, in a nonconference match Sunday. The game matched Neushul against her mother, Cathy, the head coach at UC Santa Barbara.
Kiley is the most accomplished prep girls' water polo player Santa Barbara County has ever seen while starring at Dos Pueblos High.
The Cardinal (15-1) play Brown, also at UCSB, Monday morning.
Ashley Grossman and Pallavi Menon each scored twice and Kate Baldoni had 10 saves in three periods.
Ninth-ranked Stanford softball team fell 4-3 and 8-0 in a double-header against No. 2 California, Sunday, at Smith Family Stadium. The Cardinal dropped to 25-6 overall and 0-3 in the Pac-12, while the Golden Bears improved to 29-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference.
Stanford freshman Nyree White took the loss in the circle in game one, falling to 5-3 overall. She finished with five strikeouts and allowed four runs on seven hits with just one walk.
Stanford sophomore Turner Caldwell reached the championship match of the men's foil competition before losing, 15-11, to Ohio State's Zain Shaito at the NCAA championships in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday.
Kiam Ameli was ninth in the men's epee to help Stanford finish 10th overall, improving five spots in two days.
Stanford recorded a combined 66 wins over the four-day event. Ohio State won the team title with 182 wins. Princeton followed with 161 and Notre Dame accumulated 160.
Stanford finished a busy weekend with a second-place showing at the 83rd Annual Boston Dinghy Challenge, winning the South Regional Regatta and placing sixth at the Boston Bridge Invite.
Stanford moved up one spot and finished in second at the Boston Dinghy Challenge, finishing with 362 points. Stanford had two of the top divisional scores with Kevin Laube and Kelly Ortel posting the top A Division score (98) and Oliver Toole and Haley Kirk leading the C Division with 80 points. Laube and Ortel closed out the races with first or second place showings in six of the final seven races. Toole skippered his team to top-eight finishes in 17 of 18 races.
At the Boston Bridge Invite, the Cardinal dropped a spot to sixth place with 188 points after 12 races. The A Division skippered by Jack Ortel posted 72 points, fourth-best in the division, paced by nine top-seven finishes. The B Division finished the lower of the standings in seven races.
On the West Coast, Stanford won the South Regional regatta with 60 points paced by the B Division skippered by Molly McKinney. McKinney and Kaitlyn Baab combined for 19 points, never finishing lower than third in any of the 10 races.
Stanford went 1-6 in both the first and second round of the the Szambecki Team Race to finish in eighth place with a 2-12 record.