New-Look Lineup Tags Oregon State for 11 Runs in Win

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Superstition runs rampant in baseball clubhouses, so Danny Oh rolled his pant legs up and Dixon Anderson cut his hair before Friday's game against Oregon State, taking it upon themselves to chase away the bad mojo surrounding Cal's four-game skid.

More directly responsible for the Bears' 11-3 victory were the lineup changes made by coach David Esquer. Batting in the leadoff spot, Tony Renda went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two stolen bases. Oh, bumped down to seventh, doubled, tripled and scored three runs.

"I think it gives us a little more balance," Esquer said. "And the top of our order is an RBI spot. Our bottom of the order's done a good job of getting on base and when it rolls back to the top they've got to be ready to drive in some runs."

After Renda, Brian Guinn went 3-for-5 and drove in a run.

Esquer said that he had no reservations about moving Renda out of the fifth spot, where the freshman has done so well protecting Mark Canha and Chadd Krist, coming into the game batting .345.

Esquer believes that Devin Rodriguez -- 1-for-2 hitting fifth on Friday -- will be a "big RBI guy sooner rather than later." If it turns out to be later, Esquer can turn to players like Jimmy Bosco (.340 batting average) and Mitch Delfino (.339), who both rode the bench Friday.

Renda doesn't mind the lineup change at all. He hit leadoff in high school and summer ball and prefers it.

"If I can perform in the leadoff spot, it'll jump-start our offense all the time," he said. "With Canha and Krist up to bat you have to have runners on base to get their full potential. I really don't mind batting anywhere as long as I can be on base for those guys."

Canha drove in a pair of runs, although he and Krist had just two of 14 hits by the Bears (24-15, 9-7 in the Pac-10).

The beneficiary of all the run support was starter Erik Johnson, who had it coming after giving up just two runs in eight innings last Friday and leaving with a no-decision.

The oddest thing about Cal's late losing streak was that the four losses all came in games started by either Johnson, Jones or Dixon Anderson, who before the streak had been a combined 16-5.

Johnson set things straight Friday with eight strikeouts in six innings, pitching out of trouble several times to give up just two runs.

It was not his most efficient start of the season. The sophomore right-hander threw 126 pitches and had trouble finding his command at times, losing it completely at one point in the fourth inning when he threw 10 straight balls.

"He labored," Esquer said. "Didn't pitch comfortably at all. He's capable of being better."

This was Oregon State, however, and Johnson on a bad day was still better than the Pac-10's worst offense. The Beavers (21-15, 4-9) put runners on in every inning against Johnson but could not score until the fifth, when Brandon Hayes' check-swing blooper dropped in right field to bring Keith Jennette in from third base.

With runners on first and third in the sixth, and a run already in, Johnson struck out Matt Boyd and Adalberto Santos to get out of the inning.

Kevin Miller pitched two innings of scoreless relief. Daniel Wolford -- having a rough season -- was staked to a nine-run lead in the ninth inning and only gave one back.

"When you're losing, games seem to drag on," Renda said. "When you're winning, they fly by. It's just great to see us get back on track."

Tags: CAL BASEBALL, DAVID ESQUER, ERIK JOHNSON, CAL, TONY RENDA


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]



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