Sunday: Cal Falls to Rice 7-4, Splits 4 Game Series
In the series finale, Cal came up just short against the Owls and settled for a split of the weekend's four game series in Houston. Perhaps tired from all the bat swinging in the Saturday BP session, both teams went homerless and combined for only three extra base hits in the game. Junior Danny Oh was the offensive sparkplug for the day, scoring Cal's first two runs as he was drilled in the first and fourth innings by Rice starting pitcher (and future all-name team material) Boogie Anagnostou. In the fourth Mark Canha moved Oh up with a single and the runners scored on successive sacrifice flies by 3B Tony Renda and RF Jimmy Bosco.
Pac-10 pitcher of the week Kevin Miller started for the Bears and pitched well through the first six innings, scattering 6 Rice hits and 4 walks, allowing four runs and striking out 3. He still could not stop Rice's bipedal organic baseball playing construct, 3B Anthony Rendon, who put Rice on the board by walking, stealing second (first of two steals on the day), and scoring on a single by C Craig Manuel who drove in two runs with his three hits in the game.
Cal tied the game in the seventh with their only two extra base hits of the game, a triple by Bosco followed by a double by SS Michael Semien. Austin Booker was then hit by a pitch from Rice reliever Doug Simmons who had just entered to replace Anagnostou, but ball magnet and favorite target Oh was unable (or reluctant) to repeat his previous success and grounded out to end the inning.
Cal suffered a pitching breakdown for the second straight game, although most of the victims had escaped damage in the great Saturday massacre. Miller got the hook after allowing two singles and a walk to begin the top of the seventh, and Joe Kurrasch celebrated his second appearance in as many games with two wild pitches and two walks in his 2/3 of an inning, one an intentional pass to Rendon who then stole second and advanced on a wild pitch but was stranded at third when Brian Diemer entered, striking out pinch hitter Diego Seastrunk (another candidate for the all-name team) and getting CF Steven Sultzbaugh on a grounder to Renda to escape the inning.
Matt Evanoff came on to pitch a clean 8th for the Bears and striking out two, unfortunately an inning too late. Rice's Mark Haynes came on to close the game, and allowed only two Cal baserunners, one a single by Semien and allowing Renda to reach on a wild third strike, in his two innings of work.
Despite the pitching breakdowns, especially in the bullpen, the Bears held their own on the road against one of the top college ballclubs in the nation. Over the last two weekends Cal played nearly .500 ball against two of the top 20 teams in the country, and with continued solid performances from their starters, good hitting at the top of their order especially from Canha and Krist, and avoiding the mistakes that cost them games against Arkansas, the Bears might have attracted national attention that might prove valuable later in the spring when postseason selections are made.
The Bears return to Evans Diamond on Wednesday to host the Houston Cougars, who are coming off a three game sweep of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and will be making a stop at Benedetti Diamond to play USF on Tuesday afternoon. Earlier this month Houston beat the then-#3 Texas Longhorns, so Cal has one more serious test before traveling to play Cal Poly themselves next weekend.
Saturday: Cal beats #9 Rice, 7-2 (through five innings)
In the Saturday game, Cal again stunned Rice with strong starting pitching and powerful offense, controlling the field through five innings. Sophomore starter Dixon Anderson held the Owls to two runs on five hits and five walks while striking out four. Cal sluggers Mark Canha and Chadd Krist each drove in runs in the first, Krist with his third double in two games. SS Michael Semien hit a two run homer in the second, and freshman CF Darrel Mathews was gunned down at home trying to score on a double by Brian Guinn. Cal scored again in the third when Canha launched HIS third double in two games and Chad Bunting singled him home, chasing Rice starter Tony Cingrani for Tyler Duffey. Bunting ended up stranded at third as Cal left the bases loaded, which would prove totally unimportant later in the game. Cal sneaked in another run in the fourth when Guinn singled, moved to second on a bunt by RF slugger Danny Oh, scampered to third on a passed ball, and scored on a Canha single (his third hit in as many at bats).
Cal's bats were finally silenced in the 6th inning by Duffey, at which point the Houston Astros split squad arrived to don Rice uniforms and take matters into their own hands.
Or perhaps a giant asteroid crashed into Reckling Park at this point. Records are spotty, and eyewitness accounts vary. Wait, here's a copy of the game log...
Rice 6th - Petrini to p for Anderson. Manuel flied out to cf. Comerota tripled to right center. Ratterree
walked. Fuda walked; Ratterree advanced to second. Wolford to p for Petrini. Hague doubled down the
lf line, 2 RBI; Fuda advanced to third; Ratterree scored; Comerota scored. Rendon intentionally walked.
Mozingo hit by pitch, RBI; Rendon advanced to second; Hague advanced to third; Fuda scored. Kurrasch
to p for Wolford. Rathjen to dh for McDowell. Rathjen reached on a fielder's choice, RBI; Mozingo out
at second ss to 2b; Rendon advanced to third; Hague scored. Sultzbaugh singled through the left
side, RBI; Rathjen advanced to second; Rendon scored. Manuel reached on an error by rf, advanced
to second; Sultzbaugh scored, unearned; Rathjen scored, unearned. Comerota singled up the middle;
Manuel advanced to third. Ratterree doubled to right center, 2 RBI; Comerota scored, unearned; Manuel
scored, unearned. Lowden to p for Kurrasch. Fuda singled to left field, RBI; Ratterree scored, unearned.
Hague walked; Fuda advanced to second. Rendon singled down the rf line, RBI; Hague advanced to
third; Fuda scored, team unearned. Mozingo singled, RBI; Rendon advanced to second, advanced to
third on an error by cf; Hague scored, team unearned. Rathjen grounded out to 3b.
12 runs, 8 hits, 2 errors, 2 LOB.
Note the end of that paragraph: Rice STRANDED TWO MORE RUNNERS! They could have still been batting when Daylight Savings Time began. The organist was playing fugue as the Cal pitchers entered. Don't forget to tip your servers.
Each of the Cal relievers gave up more than one run in a third of an inning and surely wishes to forget the trip to beautiful Houston, but senior hurler Daniel Wolford most of all. He didn't record an out on Saturday (ERA=infinity) and only managed to retire one Rice batter in his appearance on Thursday night, facing a total of nine Rice batters and allowing 7 runs on 4 walks. Casual fans should note, however, that this kind of performance is very important to the team. His work in these two games allowed coach Esquer to rest closer Brian Diemer after his 2.2 innings worked on Thursday night, leaving him fresh to save a close game on Sunday. Probably not a consolation to Mr. Wolford on the flight home from Houston but very important over the course of the season and critical to Cal's chances to win the 4 game series.
Only down by a touchdown at this point, their ears ringing from the aluminum racket in the previous inning, the Bears pulled within laughing distance at 14-8 on a homer from 3B Tony Renda. Unfortunately, the pitchers' duel continued as Rice added two field goals in each of the eighth and ninth innings. Cal sophomore pitchers Stephen Pistoresi and Matt Flemer earn the Iron Oski for each lasting an inning in spite of the onslaught by the batting machines from the Rice University robotics lab. Facing 9 and 11 batters, respectively, these two saved Cal position players (and starters from prior and succeeding games) from having to toss batting practice and risk arm and shoulder injuries to get through the rest of the game.
Cal managed three more runs in the ninth on a RBI double from Chad Bunting and subsequent homer by pinch hitter Mitch Delfino. The rally fell just short, unfortunately, and the Bears lost this squeaker 26-11.
NASA mainframe computers are still processing the complex algorithms required to analyze the Rice batters' totals, but early results show 3B Anthony Rendon continuing his red-hot performance through the series, blasting two homers in a 3 for 5 day (with two walks besides, once intentionally in the fateful 6th inning that probably held down Rice's scoring even more than they did). Baseball nerds that read through this whole thread will note that makes 4 home runs in three games for Rendon, whose season line is now .348/.583/.783, hopefully earning him four sliders in the dirt in every at bat on Sunday.
You can follow whatever Cal pitchers can haul themselves out of the whirlpool in the final game today at 11 AM PDT via Rice Baseball Multimedia. Those of you missing the game live today (as I will) can catch it via gametracker; the Cal Baseball site seems to leave the gametracker link up longer than does the Rice site, so those of you intending to ingest medicinal substances before watching the colorful sprites prance around should look there... as of 8AM PDT the gametracker from last night is still available. You may wish to close all other applications before the digital Rice batters recreate the 6th inning.
Friday Night: Cal beats the formerly #9 Rice, 6-4
As the Goldenbloggers crowded around their televisions to watch the branch campus' basketball team fight valiantly against all odds on their "neutral" court to hold off the Pac-10 champion squad, the Cal baseball team won their third straight game, sinking Rice 6-4 and guaranteeing at least a split of the four-game series.
Things started off slowly as the Bears tried to bunt their way on base and made a variety of weak popouts, with Rice taking the early lead with a single and double in the home half of the second off freshman lefty Justin Jones. That was all they would get through the first five innings, as Jones scattered a hit and a walk over the next three and SS Michael Semien, 2B Brian Guinn, and 1B Mark Canha turned double plays to strand runners in the third and fifth innings.
Meanwhile, the Bears erased Rice's early lead in the top of the fourth when Rice starter Jared Rogers walked Guinn and allowed a single to Austin Booker, who proceeded to double-steal their way into scoring position. With two out, Canha blasted one of his two doubles of the evening to clear the bases. Mashing C Chadd Krist followed by launching the first of HIS two doubles of the evening to drive in Canha.
Cal added another run in the fifth via singles from freshmen Jimmy Bosco and Darrel Mathews and an error and sloppy defense by Rice, hanging a run on Abe Gonzales, the second Rice pitcher to appear in the game. A variety of singles and bunts in the sixth pushed Booker across to give Cal a 5-1 lead as Gonzales gave way to Mark Haynes, the Owls' third pitcher of the evening.
Rice's morose crowd began to awaken from their slumber when 3B Anthony Rendon hit his second homer in as many nights in the sixth, but soon nodded off again as Jones retired the next 5 Owl batters with ease. Guinn reclaimed that run all by himself in the top of the 8th, tripling to right and scoring on a wild pitch. Booker followed with a single, bringing forth lefty Holt McNair (surely destined for greatness with a name like that) from the busy Rice bullpen, and he held the Bears the rest of the way. Rice added an unearned run in the 8th on a walk and wild pitch from Jones, and Rice SS Rick Hague gave the sullen Owls backers one more chance to cheer in the bottom of the ninth with a solo shot.
Jones got the final two outs easily, heading for the showers having struck out 5, walked 4 and allowing only 6 hits, guaranteeing at least a split of the 4 game series for the Bears and resting the rest of the pitching staff for the weekend games.
After a few hours sleep and enjoying all the luxury and glamour Houston has to offer of a Friday night, the bloodshot and jet-lagged Bears will take the field again tomorrow at 12 PM PST before coping with the switch to daylight savings time with an 11 AM PDT start on Sunday morning.
You can follow the action via Rice Baseball Multimedia. The audio feed is very good, and Rice's announcer is pretty professional (and I assume paid accordingly- not a student) although quite a homer. The video stream apparently requires some kind of paid membership to CBSSports.com, or perhaps enterprising EECS alums and students know some technological wizardry to work around such impediments. Finally, if (like me) you can't catch the live feed tomorrow use the gametracker and let the bouncing icons replay the game for you at your leisure.
Thursday Night: Cal Baseball beats #9 Rice, 8-6
While most of you watched the postseason pretournament basketball tournament, the Bears clobbered the #9 Rice Owls 8-6 on their home field. The game was all Bears through 6, on three run homers from C Chadd Krist and 3B Tony Renda while Erik Johnson held Rice to two hits and a walk while striking out 6!
Cal, perhaps feeling guilty for treating their hosts so poorly, let Rice climb back into the game in the 7th. The Owls put up 4 runs off only one hit (and three walks) from Roseville senior Daniel Wolford in the 6 batters he faced and Brian Diemer, who came on with the bases loaded (allowing two of those runners to score) and went the rest of the way.
Junior slugger Mark Canha added a solo shot in the 8th, his second homer in as many games, and Renda tripled and scored on a squeeze by Chad Bunting (yes, delicious irony).
Rice 3B Anthony Rendon answered with his own homer in the bottom of the inning, and things got interesting for Diemer and the Bears in the last of the ninth. After getting the first batter, Rice got two singles and a walk to load the bases for Rendon (again). Diemer walked Rendon, perhaps not the worst choice tonight. Fortunately, Chad Mozingo then hit into a 4-3-6 double play, Guinn-Canha-Semien to finish the Owls. Diemer was credited with a save, striking out 7 and walking 6 in his 2.2 innings.
The rematch is tomorrow at 4:30 PM PST (yes, another night game for those hard-partyin' Houstonians).
Here's the link again to Rice's page where you can find the audio/video feeds during the game, and a gametracker (highly recommended for its animated, color-coded Fisher-Price figures hopping about) during and after the game: Rice Baseball Multimedia.