Baseball Notes: Miller Named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week

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Junior right-hander Kevin Miller entered Sunday's game against No. 17 Arkansas with an ERA over nine. By the time he exited it, he had earned himself Pac-10 pitcher of the week honors.

Miller was named the conference pitcher of the week for the first time in his collegiate career on Monday evening, quite a turnaround from his first outing of the season. On Feb. 24, Miller was rocked by UC Davis for four runs in 3 and 2/3 innings.

On Sunday, Miller crafted a six-inning shutout of an explosive Arkansas lineup. That day, the Razorbacks lineup featured two preseason All-Americans -- first baseman Andy Wilkins and second baseman Zack Cox.

Coming into the contest, Arkansas already had 15 home runs and an astounding 75 RBI, all in just nine games.

Miller shut them down with a combination of well-spotted fastballs and a sharp-breaking curve. He only stuck out three, but held the Razorbacks to just four hits.

"This time, I was a little more solid. I stayed within my mechanics and a lot of my fastballs were down," Miller said. "And when the fastball is down, you can't do a lot with it. And I trusted my defense a lot more. The defense made a ton of plays out there, so that was huge."

Pitching Update

Brian Diemer saw his first action of the season on Sunday, pitching three scoreless innings in relief of Miller. The 6-foot-5 righty threw three shutout innings to earn the save.

It was a very long relief appearance, but Esquer said that Diemer won't usually be used in that capacity.

"We were expecting him to be our ninth-inning guy, but he hasn't had a lot of work," Esquer said. "We weren't going to leave him on the sidelines (against the Razorbacks)."

Two candidates have emerged as the middle relief men. Senior Daniel Wolford and freshman Michael Lowden have seven combined relief appearances for the Bears so far this season.

Esquer also hinted that freshman Joe Kurrasch could see some starts this season, giving Cal plenty of options for its starting rotation.

The Bears (7-3) will need all the fresh arms they can get this week. Their four-game series at No. 9 Rice begins on Thursday.

Quick Hits

--Freshman Mitch Delfino has been coming in during late innings as a defensive substitute for Tony Renda. Renda's started in all 10 games for the Bears, but Delfino has made appearances in eight of them.

"Delfino is so strong defensively," Esquer said. "Mitch is a special defender, so we'll take advantage of that when we need to."

--Right-hander Erik Johnson missed his weekend start against Arkansas due to muscle tightness. Esquer said that there was no "structural damage," but Johnson hadn't recovered as well as he would have liked after his last start.

Johnson will most likely be ready to go this weekend against Rice.

--Starting second baseman Brian Guinn was the DH on Sunday due to a jammed finger. Esquer said he would be available later in the week.

Tags: CAL BASEBALL, KEVIN MILLER, BRIAN DIEMER, PAC-10 PITCHER OF THE WEEK


Contact Katie Dowd at [email protected]



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