Cal's baseballing Bears won their first two against Cal Poly in their visit to San Luis Obispo this Friday and Saturday before dropping the finale on Sunday by a run. Scoring 25 runs over the first two games, and on the strength of a complete game six hitter by freshman Justin Jones on Saturday, the Bears overwhelmed the host Mustangs who almost managed to steal a victory in the late innings on Friday night.
Sunday: Cal Falls to Mustangs 6-5
After two big days at the plate, Cal's offense could not manage a dramatic comeback on Sunday afternoon as the Bears fell just short of a series sweep in San Luis Obispo.
Cal Poly starter DJ Mauldin held the Bears to just a walk over the first three innings. Lefty freshman Matt Evanoff made his first career start for the Bears, perhaps because Kevin Miller had to pitch in relief on Friday when Erik Johnson left the game after being hit by a line drive (see below). Evanoff pitched well in the first inning but struggled in the second, allowing (all with two outs) a single, hitting a batter, walking two batters (and walking in a run) and finally a 2 RBI single before getting out of the second.
Dixon Anderson came on in the third to pitch for the Bears and retired Cal Poly in order. Cal batters also went down in order in the third but managed a run in the fourth off Mauldin on singles from DH Austin Booker and 1B Mark Canha, who was stranded along with 3B Tony Renda after his single moved Canha into scoring position. Unfortunately, Cal Poly answered with two more runs in the bottom of the inning when Anderson gave up two singles and CF Darrel Matthews' error. A third Cal Poly single followed to make the score 5-1. Cal got nothing in the fifth off singles by SS Marcus Semien and Booker; two more singles and a sacrifice bunt put another run on the board for the Mustangs in the sixth to open the lead to 6-1.
Finally Mauldin began to labor in the sixth inning and Cal bats came alive. Canha and Krist singled, and Renda drove them in with a double. After Bosco lined out, Marcus Semien homered to bring the Bears to within one run.That was enough for the Mustangs, and Mauldin gave way to Mark DiVincenzi, who totally stymied the Bears the rest of the way, allowing a lonely single to Krist in the eighth, the sum total of Cal's offense against him.
Kevin Miller and Brian Diemer came on to finish up for the Bears and acquitted themselves well, Miller allowing just two walks and Diemer allowing only a hit and a walk, keeping the Cal within a run until the very end. Cal ended up just a run short of a sweep, fairly ironic given their output up to that point in the series.
Saturday: Jones Dominates; Cal Buries Poly 14-2
After a second consecutive 4 hour baseball marathon on Friday night, the Golden Bears struggled to score in the early innings of Saturday night's game against Cal Poly. Clinging to a 3-2 lead after 6, Cal again tore into the Mustang bullpen to blow the game open with 11 runs in the final three innings.
Fantastic freshman lefty Justin Jones, who pitched an inning against Houston on Wednesday to keep the game within reach, pitched his second complete game in as many starts. Jones struck out NINE (including the entire side to open the game) and yielded NO WALKS, allowing only two runs to Cal Poly. Jones seems to be emerging as a real prospect, as opponents tend to watch him closely as he warms up, and his complete games have allowed Cal's beleaguered bullpen a chance to recharge, which will be crucial if Cal is to be competitive once Pac-10 play starts.
Cal Poly's starter Matt Leonard pitched well enough in the early innings, holding Cal scoreless through the first four and allowing only singles to DH Austin Booker and 3B Tony Renda. Leonard started to weaken in the fifth, with Booker scoring after his second hit of the game on singles by CF Darrel Matthews and 2B BJ Guinn. Cal got two more runs in the sixth, ending Leonard's outing with doubles from C Chadd Krist and LF Chad Bunting, a single by Renda, and an untimely error by Mustang LF Luke Yoder.
Cal Poly brought sophomore righty Jeff Johnson on to relieve, after throwing 35 pitches in 1.1 innings on Friday night and giving up three runs. He struck out Guinn and then fell apart, surrendering a double to Oh, walking Canha, a single to Krist, a single to Renda, and an IF single to Bunting, with two runs scoring and leaving the bases loaded for his relief, Frankie Reed. Booker reached on an IF single, scoring Krist, and stole second before SS Marcus Semien tripled to clear the bases and finish up the Cal scoring with 5 runs for the inning and an 8-2 lead.
Having seen Houston fritter away an 8 run lead on Wednesday, the Bears poured it on in the 8th. After Guinn struck out to start the inning, Oh singled again and advanced on a BUNT single by CANHA. Krist and Renda followed with successive triples, and Renda scored on a sac fly by Bunting. Booker and Semien followed with singles, each with their second hit in as many innings, and Reed left the game for Tommy Erlin who was to mop up for the Mustangs. Erlin walked Matthews to load the bases, but blood pressures in the Mustang dugout finally lowered when Guinn struck out to end the inning (for the second time in the inning, a rare feat, of his FIVE ks on the day, a rarer feat) leaving the Bears up 12-2.
Erlin was on the mound soon enough as Jones only allowed one Mustang to reach in the 8th. Oh started off with a single, and Canha reached on a fielders' choice and advanced to second on an error. And the Bears finally answered the question others may have been asking: how lopsided must a game be for some of the Bears' backup players to get in the game? Backup C Eddie Hsieh hit for Krist and doubled to score Canha, moving to third on a wild pitch by Erlin. Renda doubled, and Bunting singled, but the inning ended when long-lost junior Dwight Tanaka flied out, possibly overcome by the shock of appearing in a game, and Semien grounded out.
Although the Mustangs got two men on in the ninth (one advancing on an error by Guinn, probably falling asleep on his feet completing his 11th hour of baseball over the last three games), both were stranded as Jones finished his second complete game.
Friday: Cal Outlasts Mustangs, Wins Endurance Test 11-9
Fresh off a four-hour long battle with the Houston Cougars on Wednesday, the Cal baseball team completed their eighth hour of baseball at about 10 PM Friday night, holding on to beat Cal Poly 11-9.
The Bears were made to feel very welcome by host starter Joey Wagman, who allowed the first 7 Cal batters to reach base, surrendering walks to Brian Guinn, Chadd Krist, and Danny Oh,singles to Austin Booker and Tony Renda, and hitting Mark Canha and Jimmy Bosco with pitches, giving Cal a 3-0 lead. Marcus Semien struck out, but Wagman headed into the San Luis night after CF Darrel Matthews drew another walk to drive in Cal's fourth run with two batters retired (on 42 pitches!) and the top of the order looming. Eugene Wright came on for Cal Poly only to walk Guinn for the second time in the inning and allow Cal's fourth run to score. Booker grounded out to finally end the inning, leaving three men on which at the time seemed relatively unimportant.
Cal starter Erik Johnson gave one run back in the first when Mustang leadoff DH Luke Yoder tripled and scored on the ensuing sacrifice fly to Matthews. Although Johnson pitched well, scattering seven hits and two walks over his six innings of work, he had to work out of jams almost every inning and gradually let Cal Poly back into the game. In the third he gave up a single, double, and a walk but only allowed one run; in the fourth he hit the leadoff batter and gave up a single, allowing another run; he walked Yoder in the fifth but stranded him at second.
Cal played for, and scored, a single run in the top of the fifth when Bosco led off the inning with a single and was bunted over (with no outs and Cal leading 5-3) by Semien and scored on a single by Matthews.
The game turned on its head in the sixth when the Mustangs put three more runs on the board to tie the game at 6-6. Johnson allowed three singles which turned into three runs courtesy of a bad throw by SS Semien and a wild pitch. The last single by CF Adam Melker ended Johnson's night, as it glanced off his glove and hit him in the head*. Trainers rushed out, and Johnson walked off the field soon after and seemed OK but was wisely removed from the game as a precaution. [Sunday update: Johnson has been shagging flies before games on Saturday and Sunday and seems to be well enough; the SLO radio announcer reported that Johnson's hat had been torn by the liner!] Righty Kevin Miller came on to finish up the inning (and allowed the single that scored Melker).
Cal seemed to blow the game open in the top of the eighth. Matthews worked a walk (his third time on base in three appearances) and advanced to third on CONSECUTIVE BUNTS WITH NO OUTS (leadoff man Guinn reaching base on his excellent effort). The Cal "one run" bunt strategy was trumped by Cal Poly's even worse decision to walk the lefthanded Oh intentionally in favor of pitching to righty Canha. Surely joyful that Cal Poly apparently did not scout the Bears, Canha blasted a grand slam to clear the bases and give Cal a 10-6 lead. Krist reached on an error and Bosco singled, but both runners were stranded (again making the free out earlier in the inning important).
And leaving runners on base is the last thing Cal should be doing this year because every lead seems to be hard to hold. Miller ended his night by striking out the first and last Cal Poly batters he faced, these strikeouts unfortunately sandwiching a base on balls, a double, and a 2-RBI single by Mustang LF Bobby Crocker. Cal's third starter of the evening, lefty Dixon Anderson, came on to throw NINE consecutive balls before striking out 1B David Van Ostrand to end the inning and strand three Mustangs. Anderson struck out two in the ninth, but Cal Poly added another run on a leadoff double and a "mistake sampler" of a walk, a hit batsman, and an error by Canha, leaving the bases loaded for the third consecutive inning when C Ross Brayton grounded out to BJ Guinn to end the game.
The Bears will head to Benedetti Diamond to face USF at 2PM on Tuesday. No audio streams apparently planned, but SF and Peninsula Bear fans might be able to make it up to Golden Gate and Turk to catch part of the game live, hopefully without too much fog blowing through.
*Attention NCAA: this makes two consecutive games featuring pitchers struck by batted balls; Cal slugger Mark Canha drilled Matt Creel of Houston in Wednesday's game. Best wishes to the family of Gunnar Sandberg, pitcher for Marin Catholic High, who has been in a medically-induced coma since being struck in the head by a line drive on March 10. Marin Catholic is 2-0 (both games played with wood bats) after Sandberg's injury.