Road Woes Continue in Pullman

Photo: Chadd Krist and the Bears have dropped their first two games against Washington State. The catcher went 2-4 with a double yesterday.
David Herschorn/File
Chadd Krist and the Bears have dropped their first two games against Washington State. The catcher went 2-4 with a double yesterday.

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Cal baseball coach David Esquer harps to his team on the importance of the third game of a series for just such occasions as this weekend.

The No. 21 Bears have traded punches with Washington State the first two days of their three-game series and came up short twice.

Something needs to change this afternoon, though, because Cal has not been able to stave off the sweep this season when playing on the road.

Following Sunday's 11-9 loss, the Bears have now fallen into an 0-2 hole in three out of their four road series. The previous two times - at Arizona State and Stanford - Cal came close to salvaging the Sunday game but lost in its opponent's final at-bat.

To avoid another sweep, the Bears (27-17, 11-9 in the Pac-10) need to figure out how to slow down an offense that has scored 24 runs on 28 hits in two games.

"I think we're just not as sharp on defense this weekend, and our pitchers haven't been their best," first baseman Mark Canha said. "But sometimes that happens, especially when you have games like (Sunday) when the nature of the game is everybody's hitting."

Cal has scored 19 runs of its own and held late leads in both games - erased by sixth- and seventh-inning rallies.

"You've got to give them credit," Canha said. "They're not dying."

Canha said he is surprised at how offense-heavy this series has been. Bailey-Brayton Field has an all-turf infield - basepath dirt included - that slows down ground balls, limiting the number of hits on the ground.

But the hits are flying in Pullman, most evident in the bottom of the sixth on Sunday, when Washington State rapped out 10 to score nine runs. The Bears began the inning leading 6-1.

Seven of the eight hitters that faced Cal starter Justin Jones in the sixth reached safely. Matt Flemer then replaced Jones and did not record an out, giving up four straight hits including a three-run home run from Michael Weber that broke a 6-6 tie.

"We're not thinking about it too much," Canha said. "(Today), whether we get out to a lead or they do, it's going to be important that we stay positive and not take ourselves out of the game."

Double plays killed the Bears' attempts to claw back into the game in the seventh and eighth innings.

Canha's three-run homer in the eighth cut the lead to two. It was his second home run of the game and gave him a career-high seven RBIs.

The next three Cal hitters all reached safely. But Danny Oh - 4-for-4 from the plate in Saturday's 13-10 loss - hit into the bases-loaded double play to end the inning.

Jones cruised through five innings, giving up three hits and an unearned run, but his record dropped to 9-4.

Starter Erik Johnson lasted only three innings on Saturday. In Pullman, the team ERA is experiencing the type of inflation typically reserved for the hit-happy ballparks of Arizona.


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]

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