The young California Golden Bears team got back in their groove, winning their first Pac-12 game of the season and preventing an Oregon sweep on March 19. The Bears beat the Ducks 4-1 in a quick 2 hour 19 minute game in front of a crowd of 1,604 at Evans Diamond.
Sophomore pitcher Joey Matulovich got the start for Cal and put in eight innings of solid work, throwing just under 100 pitches. He held the Ducks scoreless for more than six innings.
“That’s how I like to work,” Matulovich said of the fast-paced game. “I just keep going, just pitch fast and keep it going.”
Matulovich was supported by a strong Bears defense. Outfielders Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. and Jonah Davis both made big plays off a pair of hits from Oregon center fielder Jake Bennett. Mitchell made a diving catch in right field for the first out of the fourth inning, and in the eighth, Davis dove for a line drive to center to end the inning.
The Bears were also solid at the plate, connecting for eight hits and tallying four runs.
Cal got on the board in the bottom of the second inning. Davis, the six slot hitter, drove a ball deep to left field for a standing double. Left fielder Max Flower followed up knocking a grounder just fair down the third base line for a double to drive in Davis. Catcher Korey Lee laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Flower to third, and second baseman Ripken Reyes brought Flower home with a sacrifice fly deep to center field, putting Cal ahead of Oregon 2-0.
The Bears tallied two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The first came off the bat of cleanup man and third baseman, Denis Karas, as he sent a ball sailing over the left field fence for his third homerun of the season. Designated hitter Tanner Dodson followed, hitting a drive down the right field line and sliding to beat the throw for a double. Davis hit his second double of the game to drive Dodson in, giving the Bears their fourth run.
Oregon’s only run came in the top of the seventh inning. Right fielder Matthew Dyer hit a drive in to left center field for a double, he then advanced to third on a Tim Susnara sacrifice fly. A line out to center off the bat of Spencer Steer drove Dyer home.
Oregon threatened to score again in the top of the ninth inning, loading up the bases with two outs. Gabe Matthews doubled off Matulovich to start the inning. Matulovich was then replaced by Zayne Patino, who hit A.J. Balta, putting runners on first and second. Erik Martinez then came in from the bullpen. Martinez struck out Dyer in three pitches. Susnara then grounded in to an out at first, but advanced the runners to second and third with two outs for Spencer Steer. Steer walked to load the bases. Martinez then struck out pinch hitter Braden Stutzman to end the game.
“Pitching made the difference,” Cal Bears Head Coach David Esquer said. “Joey was throwing strikes and, you know, he’s done it for two weekends for us, just great performances.”
Esquer also noted the Bears’ strong defense and “nice plays” throughout the game.
The Bears bounced back to win the March 19 game after a 13-2 loss to Oregon on March 18.
“I thought they did a great job, I’m really proud of them,” Esquer said of his team. “You’ve got to learn how to do that, you’ve got to learn how not to lay down after two losses.”
Matulovich got the win, and Martinez walked away with the save, his third of the season.
The win brings the Bears’ record to 9-9 and 1-2 in conference play. The Bears will travel to Los Angeles for another conference series against UCLA March 24-26.