ASU shuts out Cal to sweep series
Monday, April 25, 2011
Category: Sports > Spring > Baseball
Cal baseball coach David Esquer stormed out of the dugout, livid after pitcher Dixon Anderson was called for a balk in the fourth inning. Two frames later, a second balk had Anderson turning toward the first base umpire, slamming both hands down into the dirt with anger and disbelief.
Esquer was tossed for his animated defense Saturday afternoon, as was pitching coach Dan Hubbs after the second call, but neither display sparked the listless Bears in their 6-0 loss to Arizona State at Evans Diamond.
It was only the second time No. 15 Cal (24-12, 9-6 in the Pac-10) has been shut out this season, with the No. 9 Sun Devils also responsible for the other with Friday's 5-0 decision.
"Everything was normal until we got to the game," second baseman Tony Renda said of the team's preparation.
Both Anderson (4-2, 3.71 ERA) and ASU starter Jake Barrett worked quickly through the first two innings, facing three batters in each.
The Bears came close to breaking what has now become a 22-inning scoring drought in the bottom of the third.
Outfielder Danny Oh, who had reached second base on a single and a balk by Barrett, made an attempt for home on shortstop Marcus Semien's single. A good throw to home plate followed by a better block by catcher Austin Barnes made sure he was tagged out.
ASU (28-9, 11-4) left fielder Johnny Ruettiger walked on a 3-1 count to open the fourth, and advanced to second on a groundout. Renda bobbled a tough grounder on the ensuing at-bat that gave the Sun Devils runners on first and third.
Designated hitter Joey DeMichele sailed a single into right field to score Ruettiger. Then Anderson, who attempted more pickoffs at first than usual, got called for the balk that put ASU up 2-0. Esquer chewed out first base umpire Tim Vessey for several minutes until he was ejected from the game.
Anderson rebounded to go three up, three down in the fifth, but things fell apart again in the sixth inning. Two straight singles put the Sun Devils in scoring position, with a sac fly moving Ruettiger to third. Another balk put Cal in a 3-0 hole and the season-high crowd of 1,005 into an uproar.
"That's the way I've been doing it all year ... I made an attempt to be more obvious with my step to third after they said the first one," Anderson said. "I think you saw (my) surprise."
It likely wouldn't have changed the final outcome. First baseman Zach Wilson sent a two-run homer over left center two at-bats later, dropping the ball just past the "365" painted on the outfield fence.
DeMichele capped the scoring with a solo shot of his own in the eighth inning, bouncing it off the Evans Diamond scoreboard.
Barrett shut out Cal in all nine innings, retiring the side in three of them. The sophomore from Mesa, Ariz., struck out only two, but forced the Bears to swing early into a variety of groundouts and pop flies.
"They throw strikes," Renda said. "When you see a strike, you hit it. It gets tough, whether it was movement or the guy today had a little bit of velocity."
Only leadoff hitter Vince Bruno had any sort of success, going 2-for-3 with a sixth-inning double that almost became a highlight-reel catch by Ruettiger until he hit the ground. The rest of the Cal lineup went 3-for-27.
"This is not us. We haven't been shut out all year long," Renda said. "To get shut out two days in a row, it's pretty ridiculous, and I don't think any of us are going to stand for that."
Jack Wang covers baseball.
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