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Cal baseball breaks losing streak with comeback victory over Gonzaga

Golden bears fight back from big hole to end five-game losing streak

Jeff Weisinger, CGB

The California Golden Bears broke a five-game losing streak with a win over Gonzaga in the first game of a doubleheader at Evans Diamond before rain halted the action heading into the seventh inning of the second game.

The Bears battled back from a six-run deficit to top the Gonzaga Bulldogs 8-7 in a marathon 13-inning game.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Jared Horn was the first of six pitchers to take the mound for the Bears. Horn struggled against the Gonzaga offense, hurling 70 pitches over 2 1/3 innings, giving up six runs, including a home run to deep centerfield off the bat of Gonzaga junior Jake Vieth in the second inning.

“They made him pay for every mistake,” Cal Bears Coach David Esquer said.

The Bulldogs led the Bears 6-0 going into the fourth inning when Cal’s bats started to heat up. Bears third baseman Denis Karas led off the bottom of the inning with a double down the first base line. Right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. followed, driving a grounder through the hole between second and third for a base hit that sent Karas home for the Bears’ first run.

Cal sophomore catcher Tyrus Greene connected for a single, advancing Mitchell to second, and a sacrifice bunt from freshman Anthony Walters moved the runners to second and third. Ripken Reyes drove in the Bear’s second run with a grounder to the second baseman, sending Mitchell across the plate.

Gonzaga answered with one run in the fifth inning off a hard-hit grounder from third baseman Jeff Bohling that drove right fielder Daniel Fredrickson home.

Sophomore designated hitter Tanner Dodson tallied Cal’s only run in the fifth inning with a solo home run over the left field fence, bringing the score to 7-3.

Cal bats got hot in the sixth inning when sophomore center fielder Jonah Davis stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Davis took it to a full count before driving a hard grounder past the diving Gonzaga third baseman’s glove, pushing in two runs. The Bears scored one more off a Dodson single down the middle, bringing the score to 7-6 going into the seventh inning.

“We’re not just going to wait for offense,” Esquer said. “Everyone is going to have to contribute.”

The Bears tied up the game in the bottom of the ninth with a Walters grounder between first and second that drove Mitchell home from second base, sending the game into extra innings.

Junior Erik Martinez took the mound for the Bears going into the 10th inning. Martinez held the bulldogs at seven runs through three scoreless innings, digging out of two bases loaded situations.

“I give him credit for battling out of those jams,” Esquer said.

Cal’s Andrew Vaughn shifted from first base to pitch a three-up, three-down 13th inning, sending the Bears into the bottom of the inning tied at seven.

Vaughn led off the inning with a hit to center field for a single with Bear’s No. 4 hitter Karas coming up to bat. After bunting a ball foul, Karas hit a standup double up the hole in center, driving Vaughn home, sliding to avoid the tag for the winning run.

Vaughn took the win in the four-and-a-half hour game. Calvin LeBrun was the losing pitcher.

The Bears and the Bulldogs took the field for the second game of the doubleheader at 5:18 p.m.

The Bears played solid defense and sophomore pitcher Joey Matulovich pitched a clean game through five-and-a-half innings before the rain started coming down in the middle of the sixth inning.

The game was postponed at 6:58 p.m. after the sixth inning, with the Bears leading the Bulldogs 3-2. The game will pick back up at 11:30 a.m. Sunday.