The California Golden Bears bats stayed hot, carrying the Bears through their second win over the Arizona State Sun Devils on April 8. Cal batters connected for 11 hits in the 6-4 victory.
The Bears got a solid start from pitcher Joey Matulovich, who held the Sun Devils scoreless through five innings. Tanner Dodson also had a big game both on offense and defense. He recorded three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base, and also took the mound, throwing 1.1 innings for the Bears.
“He’s a baseball player, and I think he likes it when he’s involved in all parts of the game,” Cal Head Coach David Eqsuer said of Dodson, who he described as a team leader. “People follow him because he can pitch and hit.”
After rain and hail in the first inning, the Bears got on the board in the second inning. Center fielder Tanner Dodson laid down a nice bunt and beat out the throw for a single, and a wild pitch from ASU’s Chaz Montoya advanced Dodson to second. Designated hitter Matt Ruff sent a drive through to right field for a single, putting runners on first and second for left fielder Max Flower. Flower hit one into center field and got thrown out trying to take second, but the hit was enough to drive Dodson home, putting Cal ahead of ASU 1-0 going in to the third inning.
Matulovich got through the top of the third quickly, putting away Ryan Lillard, Jeremy McCuin and Tyler Williams.
Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. put things in motion for the Bears in the bottom of the third, drawing a walk from Montoya. Three-slot hitter Andrew Vaughn hit a line drive to center field for a single, pushing Mitchell to second for cleanup man Denis Karas. Karas tallied his 13th RBI of the season, sending a fly ball deep to left field for a double to bring Mitchell home. Dodson stepped to the plate with Karas on second and Vaughn on third. Dodson hit a fly ball just fair down the right field side for a triple, scoring Karas and Vaughn and putting the Bears up 4-0. After a strikeout from Ruff, Flower walked, putting runners on the corners for second baseman Ripken Reyes. The Bears pulled of a delayed double steal as Flower broke from first drawing a throw to second while Dodson took home. Cal ended the third inning leading ASU 5-0.
Cal tallied their sixth run of the game in the fifth. Dodson led off the inning with a double, and Ruff laid down a bunt, putting runners on first and second for Flower, who recorded his second RBI of the day sending a grounder to short to bring Dodson home.
“It’s always huge to jump out to an early lead,” Dodson said. “We’re trying to score early and often, just keep piling up runs, help the bullpen out.”
Just like the first game, ASU threatened a late comeback. Sun Devils leadoff man Tyler Williams sent a pitch from Matulovich sailing across the left field fence to put ASU on the board in the top of the sixth. Center fielder Andrew Shaps followed up with another homerun, this one over the right field fence.
The scoring didn’t stop there, Andrew Snow hit a deep fly ball to center field for a standing double, and another double off the bat of Gage Canning brought Snow home, bringing the score to 6-3 before Cal reliever Zayne Patino came in to finish out the sixth inning.
Although Matulovich lasted five solid innings, Esquer said the team needs a little more out of their starting pitchers.
“If you’ve got a starting pitcher, you need him to get through that sixth,” Esquer said. “That’s a lot to ask out of your pen, and our pen hasn’t necessarily been that fifth, sixth inning strong this year.”
ASU scored again in the seventh. Patino walked Williams with two outs, then a triple from Shaps drove Williams home. Dodson came in from center field to end the seventh inning for the Bears.
Dodson also held off the Sun Devils through the eighth inning before Erik Martinez was brought in to close out the ninth inning.
Matulovich earned the win, and Martinez got the save, his fourth of the season.
The win brings the California Golden Bears to 14-14 on the season, and 6-6 against Pac-12 opponents. The Bears will face the Sun Devils for the third and final game of the conference series on April 9 at Evans Diamond.