Cal Suffers First Loss of Season at Stanford

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For the second game in a row, the No. 17 Cal baseball team took two runs into the ninth inning. For the second game in a row, it needed a late comeback to pull a late victory.

But playing No. 8 Stanford isn't the same as playing unranked Utah, even if a one-run deficit appeared more surmountable than the 5-2 hole the Bears faced Sunday. Five at-bats later, Cal walked off the Cardinal's Sunken Diamond with a 3-2 loss.

Reliever Matt Flemer had done as well as the Bears (2-1) could have hoped in the bottom of the eighth, striking out three straight -- all swinging -- to set up his team for one last shot at keeping its perfect record a little longer.

The team's offense, however, couldn't manage a single hit in the final inning, landing runners on first and second by drawing walks against Stanford's Scott Snodgress. Cal shortstop Marcus Semien struck out swinging on a 1-2 count to end the game.

Stanford (3-1) had erupted early to take a 3-0 lead in the first half of the contest. Shortstop Kenny Diekroeger -- the first batter up in the bottom of the second inning -- ripped a Dixon Anderson pitch past left field, putting the Cardinal on the board with his first home run of the season. Anderson recovered nicely after allowing his second hit of the game, closing the inning with three strikeouts.

Before the game, Cal left fielder Darrel Matthews said he had heard the hype surrounding his team's cross-bay rival and wanted to "test it first-hand."

The hardest part of that test came in the third inning, when the Cardinal unleashed four of their seven hits.

After Stanford starting pitcher Jordan Pries retired three consecutive batters, his teammates went to work at the plate. On Anderson's very first pitch, second baseman Lonnie Kauppila doubled into right field. Two singles came next, scoring Kauppila and putting runners on first and second.

The Bears turned the next at-bat into a double play, but the Cardinal were soon in scoring position with catcher Zach Jones at third and designated hitter Ben Clowe walked to first. Diekroeger, Stanford's top hitter at .438, was up to bat again. He didn't disappoint, hitting a single into left field for his second RBI of the day.

"We have the potential to be an amazing offensive team," Diekroeger told "We've been good so far, but you've only seen the tip of the iceberg."

Cal pulled close after Stanford switched freshman A.J. Vanegas onto the mound. The Bears loaded the bases with three singles, and Semien drew a walk to score the team's first run. A sacrifice fly tacked on another point for Cal, but they never reached home plate again.

The matchup didn't count towards Pac-10 standings, and the Bears have another Tuesday night game scheduled at Stanford in April.

"Our schedule never really lets up," Esquer said Sunday.

Cal will fly east this weekend for the Caravelle Resort's Tournament in South Carolina.


Jack Wang covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected]

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