Matthiessen is en­joy­ing a merry month of May

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - COLLEGES - By Tom FitzGer­ald Tom FitzGer­ald is a San Francisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: tfitzger­ald@sfchron­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @tomg fitzger­ald

No, Will Matthiessen hasn’t cut a deal with the devil. But con­sider what Stan­ford’s 6foot-5 re­lief pitcher has done this month — with the bat.

At the end of April he was hit­ting .222, hav­ing been unim­pres­sive in a stint as the des­ig­nated hit­ter. He was 4-for-18 and was with­out a home run and had only three RBIs.

Then he was given an­other chance. Let’s just call him Mr. May.

Since the cal­en­dar turned, he’s hit­ting .448 with six homers and 17 RBIs. In Sun­day’s se­ries fi­nale at Ore­gon State, he un­loaded a game-win­ning three­run dou­ble in the 10th in­ning.

Some of his team­mates are calling him “Sho­hei” or “Oh­tani” in honor of the Ja­panese pitcher-slug­ger for the An­gels.

For the record, Matthiessen has a 2-0 record with a 2.03 ERA and a .362 bat­ting av­er­age. En­ter­ing Thurs­day, Oh­tani was 3-1, with a 3.58 ERA, a ..325 av­er­age and five homers. Also for the record, Matthiessen chuckles at any com­par­i­son with a big lea­guer, much less an in­ter­na­tional phe­nom.

He hopes to con­tinue his hot streak when the No. 3 Car­di­nal (40-8, 18-6 Pac-12) meet Wash­ing­ton State (15-28-1, 7-16-1) in the fi­nal home se­ries of the reg­u­lar sea­son start­ing Fri­day.

They fin­ish next week at Wash­ing­ton, then will likely host a June 1-4 re­gional in the NCAA tour­na­ment.

“I’m just out there hav­ing fun,” Matthiessen said. “I at­tribute a lot of my suc­cess to (hit­ting coach) Tommy Ni­chol­son. He’s helped me a lot with my ap­proach and with get­ting com­fort­able in the box.”

One of the things that was plagu­ing him was the in­side pitch. “We worked on that a lot,” Matthiessen said. “Now I’m able to hit that in­side pitch well and put it over the fence.”

He can cer­tainly hit the break­ing ball, as he proved in Sun­day’s dra­matic 9-6 win against Ore­gon State. The Car­di­nal, down 6-1 early, tied it on fresh­man Nick Oar’s pinch home run in the ninth — his third homer in just four hits this year.

With the bases loaded in the 10th, Matthiessen waved at two fast­balls from stand­out closer Jake Mulholland be­fore get­ting a break­ing ball.

“The at-bat be­fore, he had flashed his curve­ball once,” Matthiessen said. This time “I rec­og­nized it pretty early out of his hand, and he left it over the mid­dle of the plate.”

Matthiessen shot it down the third-base line, clearing the bases and al­low­ing the Car­di­nal to avoid a de­flat­ing sweep in Cor­val­lis.

“A few of our guys (in­clud­ing Matthiessen) have ben­e­fited from be­ing in the lineup, com­ing out of the lineup, watch­ing and re­flect­ing — and then get­ting an­other chance,” head coach David Es­quer said.

Matthiessen helped West Linn (Ore.) High School win four state bas­ket­ball cham­pi­onships and was re­cruited in that sport by Boise State and Port­land. But he set his sights on base­ball, and Stan­ford re­cruited him as a cor­ner in­fielder. To his sur­prise, he wound up in a sig­nif­i­cant re­lief pitch­ing role (3-0, 2.33 ERA in 20 ap­pear­ances) as a fresh­man.

He’s still com­ing out of the bullpen as a sopho­more, but he’s be­come even more valu­able with a bat. That said, he’s not the most pro­lific ath­lete in his fam­ily.

His grand­mother, Dorothy Matthiessen, 83, of Pasadena, was ranked as the No. 1 or 2 women’s ten­nis player in the world in her age bracket for more than 20 years.

Her grand­son played ten­nis, too. Did he ever play his grandma? “She smoked me,” he said.

Briefly: Sec­ond base­man Duke Ki­na­mon, an All-Pac-12 se­lec­tion in 2017, will red­shirt this sea­son and come back next year, Es­quer said. Ki­na­mon hasn’t played this year af­ter sus­tain­ing a groin in­jury in warm-ups just be­fore the sea­son opener. … Start­ing out­fielder Bran­don Wulff, who missed 26 games

with a foot in­jury, re­turned as a pinch-hit­ter Tues­day against BYU. … Catcher Mav­er­ick Han­d­ley will miss the Wash­ing­ton State se­ries and maybe the Wash­ing­ton se­ries af­ter slightly frac­tur­ing a bone in his left (non-throw­ing) arm in a skate­board mishap last week.

Michael Ma­cor / The Chron­i­cle

Stan­ford’s Will Matthiessen is hit­ting .448 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in May as a des­ig­nated hit­ter.

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