Miller Squeezes Ducks in Rubber Match

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The Cal baseball team ran sprints on Saturday after its 5-3 loss to Oregon, a new method of self-inflicted punishment for the Bears when they strike out more than seven times in a game.

Based on how hot it was Sunday afternoon, it's safe to say that Cal didn't want to add more running to its day.

Luckily for the Bears, the squad struck out just once and took two out of three from the Ducks with an 11-1 win at Evans Diamond.

"The statistics show that if we have good plate discipline like we did today, we're going to win most of our games," first baseman Mark Canha said. "That's not the only factor and reason why we've been struggling lately, but I think it's a big one for us."

The Cal hitters may have been prolific, but they got a huge lift from sophomore starting pitcher Kevin Miller, who posted the finest start of his career, two-hitting Oregon (13-23, 3-9 in the Pac-10) for seven solid innings.

Miller struck out four and gave up just one extra-base hit with a combination of sluggishly slow offspeed pitches and pinpoint-precise fastballs.

"I hit a lot of spots, got a lot of off-speed on the first strike and the defense played great," Miller said. "At the beginning of the year, I was starting and trying to do too much. I've got the chance to start again now and so I'm just staying within myself."

At the plate, Cal (18-19, 5-10) capitalized on mistakes by the Ducks to keep the game firmly in control from the first pitch to the final out.

That patience and focus was on full display in the first inning. Canha walked with two outs and advanced to third on a throwing error by shortstop Scott McGough on a stolen base attempt. Oregon pitcher Alex Keudell then tossed a wild pitch to score Canha.

The Bears added at least one run in each of the next five innings, three off home runs by second baseman Jeff Kobernus, right fielder Danny Oh and Canha.

"One thing that's important for our offense is to get started early. Don't waste any time getting on the board," Canha said. "And that usually helps us hitters out and also takes some pressure off the pitching, too. If we can do that, there's a good chance we can take control of the game early."

Home runs were just one piece of the offensive puzzle, however, on a day when Cal reached base in almost every conceivable fashion-on throwing errors, bunt singles, intentional walks and 16 base hits-and scored four unearned runs on four Ducks errors.

The win is the Bears' second conference series victory of the season, bringing them to 5-10 in the Pac-10 with an important week of baseball to come: Cal plays Stanford at Sunken Diamond on Wednesday and hosts No. 4 Arizona State for a three-game series starting on Friday.

"It's good to be home, and it's good to finally get some wins in Pac-10 play. We're not done, though," Canha said. "We've got a big series against Arizona State coming up, and that one's going to be huge for us I think it's a keeping-your-eyes-on-the-prize mentality. Stay focused, don't get too high on this weekend and realize what we have to do."

Tags: CAL BASEBALL, DAVID ESQUER, KEVIN MILLER, MARK CANHA


Contact Katie Dowd at [email protected]



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