Bruno Boosts Bears' Lineup As Buckeyes Come to Town

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Los Medanos College is a two-year junior college in the East Bay that serves 14,000 undergraduates.

The No. 15 Cal baseball team owes that school a debt of gratitude right about now.

Last week, the Bears' starting outfielder Chad Bunting injured his thumb. Earlier in the week, he went under the knife and will be rehabbing for the next several weeks.

But luckily for the Bears, the loss of their every day center fielder isn't a mortal blow - their sophomore transfer from Los Medanos has been waiting in the wings.

Through eight starts, Vince Bruno is batting .375 with three RBI and his journey at Cal (10-5) continues this weekend with a three-game series against Ohio State. Game one takes place today at 2:30 p.m., barring rain, at Evans Diamond.

The Buckeyes haven't come to the state of California since 1996, but their big-name status hasn't phased the new kid from Concord.

"They're gonna have a guy. It's gonna be a name and a number, and that's about it," Bruno said. "They're gonna be good guys. It's gonna be good competition."

Bruno's lack of concern about Ohio State underscores the confidence that he has brought to the plate and to the team this season.

A late bloomer, Bruno didn't play well enough during his junior year of high school to get the attention of college recruiters. But Bruno got noticed by Cal with a solid senior campaign. The coaches told him that if he went to community college, played good ball and maintained high grades, he'd get a shot to transfer to Berkeley.

Bruno did all those things, securing himself a spot on the team this year. It didn't take him long to make an impact. On Wednesday against San Francisco, Bruno went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.

"The biggest difference it that here, everyone wants to work harder than you," Bruno said. "There's not one slacker on this team."

The Bears may not be slackers, but they certainly didn't look razor sharp in their last outing against San Francisco.

Although a four-run ninth inning comeback gave Cal some momentum, the innings leading up to the ninth weren't as spectacular. Three of their eight hits came in the ninth, and they left baserunners on in nearly every inning. The final outcome was a 7-6 loss in 11 innings.

Ohio State (6-5) might be the right team to wipe clean the taste in the Bears' mouth. The Buckeyes staff ERA is almost five.

And considering how many things the Bears feel needs improvement, this weekend could be a good place to start.

"Everything," shortstop Marcus Semien said. "Defense, we need to pick it up. Our pitchers need to stop walking guys and if they do walk guys, we need to get have guys behind them to help them out."


Katie Dowd covers baseball. Contact her at [email protected]

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