Bears Fall to Washington, 7-3, in Game One of Series

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It befit the Cal baseball team's Friday afternoon that Chadd Krist tripled with two outs in the ninth and Tony Renda struck out swinging behind him. The Bears had their eight-game winning streak snapped by Washington in a 7-3 loss in which they simply could not hit with runners in scoring position.

They stranded two men on base in each of the first four innings and finished 3-for-16 hitting with runners on either second or third.

"We could've gotten the momentum early in the game, it could have been a whole different story," outfielder Danny Oh said. "So it's tough."

Cal had been so good before Friday coming through with clutch hits (a .363 average with runners in scoring position) that it seemed like it would only be a matter of time before the Bears burned Huskies starter Geoff Brown for pitching himself into trouble. They ended up not driving a runner in from second base until the bottom of the seventh, when they were already down 6-1.

In fact, Cal (20-11, 6-4 in the Pac-10) gave a very un-Cal-like performance across the board. Starting pitcher Erik Johnson struggled with his command and allowed five runs (four earned) in six innings. A pair of errors led to Washington (19-13, 4-3) scoring two unearned runs.

"Unfortunately, the things we've done to win some games, we didn't do any of those," coach David Esquer said.

Perhaps most unusual was that, as Esquer put it, "their starter pitched better than our starter," which has happened only a handful of times this season. Johnson fell behind hitters early in the count and had trouble putting away leadoff hitters. He hardly threw his biting curveball, which is typically his most effective out pitch. In the sixth inning, with the Bears trailing 2-1, Johnson walked Chase Anselment on four pitches with the bases loaded and one out, forcing in a run.

Brown lasted just 5 1/3 innings and faced 26 hitters, but the only run that he allowed came on Krist's solo home run in the fifth. He was able to locate his fastball, changeup and curveball, and was very effective throwing the backdoor breaking ball to right-handed hitters.

"Maybe we didn't have the right approach," the catcher Krist said. "He was getting us a lot with that curveball."

Krist himself struck out flailing at an outside curve in the first inning. He recovered nicely, though, hitting safely in his next four at-bats, driving in two runs and raising his average to .383. First baseman Mark Canha edged above the .400 mark, now hitting .402 after his 2-for-4 day.

"We still put up 11 hits," Krist said. "They just weren't at the right time."

The Huskies' timing was better. They scored single runs in the third and fourth innings on two-out, two-strike hits -- a double by Bradley Boyer and a single from Caleb Brown.

They also benefited from some sloppy defense, scoring two unearned runs on a pair of Cal errors.

In the game's most bizarre sequence, immediately following Johnson's one-out, bases-loaded walk, catcher Miles Kizer lifted a shallow fly to right that Jimmy Bosco misjudged. Bosco caught the ball in a slide while Troy Scott tagged up from third base, then made a lazy, low throw to the cutoff man Canha. Caleb Brown, who had tagged up from second base, took a hard turn at third base and scored without a play at the plate.

Bosco was pinch-hit for in the bottom half of the inning and replaced in the field.

Johnson lost for just the second time this season. Redshirt sophomore Joey Donofrio made his first appearance of the season and pitched a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, coaxing two double plays.

And the Bears absorbed their first defeat in April, bidding farewell to their longest winning streak since early 2008.

"It's something to learn from," Krist said. "We weren't going to sweep every team in the Pac-10."

The Bears can even the series Saturday starting at 1 p.m. Freshman Justin Jones, who is 7-2 with a 2.83 ERA, will start.

Tags: CAL BASEBALL, DAVID ESQUER, DANNY OH, ERIK JOHNSON, CHADD KRIST


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]



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