VHS alum Justin Moore growing into pitching role at Stanford

STANFORD, CA – FEBRUARY 19: Justin Moore during a game between Cal State Fullerton and Stanford Baseball at Sunken Diamond on February 19, 2022 in Stanford, California.

Vandegrift Vipers senior quarterback Justin Moore (12) surveys the defense during a high school football game between the Westlake Chaparrals and the Vandegrift Vipers at Chaparral Stadium in Austin, Texas, on September 29, 2017.

By Zach Smith, Hill Country News

Justin Moore has never stopped believing in himself.

Success on the football field, the basketball court and the baseball diamond at Vandegrift helped him make it to Stanford, where he’s been transitioning from an infield player to a full-time pitcher with the Cardinal.

“Playing at a school like Stanford, your competition is going to be really talented,” Moore said. “You have to believe in yourself if you’re going to contribute to the team. If you believe in yourself and have coaches and teammates that believe in you, it makes it a lot easier to keep going.”

Moore was recruited as a two-way player at Stanford, but head coach David Esquer and the staff decided to have him focus on becoming a pitcher.

He had surgery on his elbow during the COVID-19 pandemic and has since been working his way back to full strength.

“It hasn’t been a smooth road to embrace those opportunities,” Esquer said. “When you see him on the mound, there’s a lot more to that than just getting a chance. There were a lot of bumps and bruises along the way that he’s taken. He values those opportunities, and it makes us a tougher ball club.”

Moore has struck out 10 batters in eight appearances for Stanford this season, recently fanning two against Santa Clara on May 17. He has 13 career strikeouts in 14 appearances with the Cardinal.

“Coming back from surgery, it was my first time pitching full time since high school,” Moore said. “It took me longer than I would’ve liked. This fall and winter, I’ve settled down and seen improvements in my game.”

Moore said making it to Omaha and the College World Series last year and being part of that atmosphere was one of the coolest experiences so far. And the team is back to Omaha this year.

No. 2 national seed Stanford advanced to its second straight College World Series this year with a 10-5 victory over University of Connecticut in early June. Stanford (47-16) won the Stanford Super Regional. Auburn University eliminated Stanford on June 20.   

“He’s a phenomenal teammate, and he’s got talents beyond baseball that would amaze you,” Esquer said. “Him being good at pitching after being a hitter for most of his career is no surprise.”

Moore was a three-sport star in his time at Vandegrift, earning all-district and team MVP honors as a quarterback on the football team in 2017, while also playing a key role on the basketball team.

He was a back-to-back all-district player at third base while helping the Vandegrift baseball team make the playoffs for the first time in school history in 2017 and return for the second straight year in 2018.

“I had an awesome time Vandegrift, and I’m thankful for my experiences there,” Moore said. “Making the (baseball) playoffs as a junior for the first time in school history is still one of my best baseball memories to this day.”

Whatever the future holds for Moore, whether it’s at Stanford or somewhere else, he’s focused on controlling what he can control and helping his team win.

“In the locker room with all the guys, I wouldn’t want to spend three or four seasons anywhere else,” Moore said.

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