After dropping the first two games of their three-game homestand against the Razorbacks, Cal avoided a sweep this afternoon with two home runs and a touchdown's worth of run production while holding the 2009 College World Series semifinalists to only 6 hits.
Junior leftfielder Danny Oh put Cal on the board in the 4th with a line drive rocketed just over the RF fence. This proved to be all the offense the Bears would need as junior Kevin Miller held the Hogs to 4 hits over his six innings of work. Work was the operative word; Miller managed to strand 4 Arkansas baserunners over the first three innnings before settling into a groove and allowing only one more baserunner.
Other than Oh's homer, the Bear attack for the first 5 innings consisted of a bunt single and a couple of infield dribblers, and the series seemed to be ending in a pitchers' duel after the two teams had combined for 24 runs in the first two games of the series.
That all changed in the 6th inning, when Arkansas' Brett Eibner gave way to slinging lefthander Geoff Davenport. Cal 2B Austin Booker welcomed the lefty to the game with a single, moving to second when Oh reached first on a mishandled bunt. Bellarmine grad 1B Mark Canha then dented the RSF with an epic blast to left center, well over 365 feet away, bringing his teammates off the bench in celebration:
(Sorry for the single picture; I only had my phone with me and the beautiful sun made for bad backlighting of the action.)
Massive Brian Diemer, a junior from Acalanes High, earned a save with three solid innings of perfectly-balanced work, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out two. Cal added two more runs in the seventh inning mostly via comedy, as the Hogs made two errors including a bizarre sequence beginning with Brian Guinn's attempted steal of second which led to a bad throw and eventually a collision between the 2B and CF as they fought for the loose ball, allowing Guinn to advance to third base. Arkansas was charged with a total of three errors on the day but made at least as many bobbles and drops that turned outs into infield hits for the Bears and a nightmare for Davenport, as he ended up on the hook for five runs in two innings of work.
Paid attendance was reported as 597, but that seems a bit low since there were well over 100 scarlet-clad Arkansas rooters present, cheering happily at their brief liberation from life in Fayetteville despite the happenings on the field. Most of the upper rows of seats at Evans Diamond were occupied, mostly by families (and since children are admitted free this may have accounted for the low reported attendance).
For those of you interested, Cal's next home game is Wed. March 17 vs. the Houston Cougars (first pitch 2:30 PM). Those of you in SF or on the peninsula might want to catch Cal's visit to USF's Benedetti Diamond on Tuesday March 23 (2PM start).
For those of you trapped behind desks or otherwise unable to scream in person, young Cal scholars broadcast certain games (the Houston game is next on the list) on 90.7 KALX or streaming from their website. I tuned in to find out what happened during some early game confusion (an umpire limped off the field ill in the first inning), and left it on the rest of the game. The kid announcers are a fun listen, and there was no lag in signal at all, so it was really a nice addition to the whole experience. Don't expect the ghost of Bill King; they seemed to be working off the same scorecards available at the gate and missed quite a few substitutions and pitch-by-pitch calls.
Cal begins a 4 game series in Houston this Thursday evening against 9th-ranked Rice (at 6:30 CT; the Owls can apparently afford lights and electricity for their baseball squad, not to mention luxury boxes and a fancy video scoreboard).