Jones' Complete Game, 12 Ks Ease Cal Past Trojans

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When the Cal baseball team stood at Evans Diamond today, ready for the national anthem, the mound was empty. The players looked around; pitcher Justin Jones had apparently lost track of time, and was scrambling to find his hat in the dugout.

Once he got on the field, it was USC that looked lost.

Jones put forth a masterful effort in his first complete game of the season, making 12 strikeouts and allowing no walks as he powered the No. 13 Bears to a 9-2 victory. It was more than enough after a first-inning eruption that gave Cal a 6-0 lead after its 10-6 loss to the Trojans ended a seven-game win streak a day earlier.

The sophomore (4-1, 2.47 ERA) came out firing in the first. Boasting good control on his curveball and cutter, he struck out two batters on three pitches each and ended the top of the inning in about five minutes.

"Warming up, I felt all right," Jones said. "When I got out there, the adrenaline started going and I felt pretty good. Felt like I was able to keep rolling through."

The bottom of the inning took nearly half an hour, as the Bears took turns inflating USC starter Austin Woods' ERA.

Woods hit both shortstop Marcus Semien and second baseman Tony Renda to start the inning. The pair then advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Then the Bears unleashed three consecutive single RBIs, and a series of mistakes by the Trojans quickly put them in a hole.

USC pulled Woods after just 2/3 of an inning, but the scoring didn't end just yet. Catcher Jay Hernandez made an off-target throw to second, and Darrel Matthews stole home to put Cal (18-6, 4-1 in the Pac-10) up 6-0.

"I thought it was big for us to come back after getting beat on Friday," Cal coach David Esquer said. "Our whole focus this year is what's gonna prepare us to move beyond You want to be that team to comes back and is not defeated by going down 0-1 in any series."

The Trojans (10-17, 2-3) made the mildest of comeback attempts as the Bears' offense quieted. Designated hitter Matt Foat notched both his team's two RBI on the day, hitting singles with a pair of runners on base in both the fifth and sixth innings.

Cal first baseman Devon Rodriguez stuck a dagger in USC's hopes after that. The sophomore, who went 4-for-5 at the plate, hammered a fastball over right field for a two-run homer to cap the game's score - and possibly interrupted the high school track meet at neighboring Edwards Stadium.

"That put the game away for us," Esquer said. "I thought we needed to have that. I thought we needed one more score to really give us some breathing room."

Jones, who has come on of late after a slow start earlier this spring, ended the game by etching two backward Ks into the scorebook.

Cal takes on USC again on Sunday at 1 p.m. to end the three-game series.


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

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