Rodriguez's Perfect Batting Sparks Cal Comeback in 15-Inning Victory

Campbell's Drag Bunt Gives Bears Second Walk-off Win This Spring

Photo: First baseman Devin Rodriguez batted a perfect 5-for-5 yesterday. The sophomore hit three doubles.
Amir Moghtaderi/Staff
First baseman Devin Rodriguez batted a perfect 5-for-5 yesterday. The sophomore hit three doubles.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- In the middle of the 13th inning, Maroon 5's "Sunday Morning" blared from the speakers at AT&T Park.

No, the Cal baseball team didn't play until midnight, but its 15-inning marathon win over No. 18 Rice yesterday came painfully close. Bears starter Justin Jones tossed out the first pitch at 7:13 p.m.; freshman Derek Campbell laid his walk-off drag bunt at 11:50 p.m.

But the 7-6 victory would have never come without Devin Rodriguez's career day. The sophomore first baseman's 5-for-5 performance helped key the No. 20 Bears' late comeback out of a 6-1 hole. He and third baseman Mitch Delfino, who batted a career-high 4-for-5, combined for nine of Cal's 21 hits in the game.

Staring at two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Rodriguez cracked a single straight down center field to give his team runners on first and second. Delfino was up next, hammering the ball deep into left center for two RBI.

Two innings later, the pair was at it again. A single RBI by second baseman Tony Renda in the eighth had pulled the Bears within one. Again, Rodriguez's bat connected, this time sending a double into right field. Again, Delfino backed him up with a single that scored freshman Lou Lechich, who pinch ran for Rodriguez.

"We fought," Rodriguez said. "We pride ourselves on fighting. We're not going down until that last out."

But he and Delfino, who was subbed out for Campbell as a pinch runner, watched the remainder of the game from the dugout. With both the duo and the head coach forced out of action -- David Esquer had been tossed in the sixth for arguing with the umpire -- the Bears (9-4) stayed knotted with the Owls (9-8) at six runs apiece.

So it turned into Kevin Miller time. After Jones' initial struggles through the fifth inning, Miller's stellar showing on the mound gave the Bears a chance. He blanked the Owls in seven innings of relief, locating his fastball well despite a lack of 90s-level heat and consistently staying ahead in pitch counts. The senior struck out five of the 24 batters he faced and allowed just one of Rice's ten hits.

But even he didn't expect that sort of workload.

"Oh, God. Once we went into extras, I just wanted that one run," Miller said. "I was waiting for that one run. That's all I was thinking about."

Freshman Kyle Porter replaced Miller to start the 12th and threw four strong innings of his own to earn the win. Like Miller, he made five strikeouts and allowed one hit, keeping the Bears afloat until Campbell's bunt single scored Renda.

Six extra innings helped mask what was a spotty hitting performance by Cal early on. The Bears' 17 runners left on base may have already looked bad in the final box score, but 12 of those came in the first nine innings.

"I think people were just trying to do a little too much," Rodriguez said. "Trying to win it in one swing and that's not how we do. We're a team and we put together hits."


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

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