Cal bursts ahead late in bizarre 4-1 win over Aggies

Bears now five wins short of last year's win total

Photo: First baseman Devon Rodriguez went 0-for-2 at the plate Tuesday, but gave Cal its first run of the game when he drew an RBI walk in the seventh inning.
Kevin Foote/Staff
First baseman Devon Rodriguez went 0-for-2 at the plate Tuesday, but gave Cal its first run of the game when he drew an RBI walk in the seventh inning.

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So far this season, the No. 15 Cal baseball team has proven it can win games with pitching and games with defense. They can out-slug you, or they can get one big hit to win it. With a 4-1 victory over UC Davis on Tuesday afternoon, the Bears proved they can also win games that are just plain weird.

"We're not gonna run away from whatever type of game it's gonna take to win," coach David Esquer said. "We'd like it to be easier, but we're not gonna expect it to be easy."

Not much of anything happened for 6 1/2 innings. After being shut down by a mediocre freshman pitcher in Aggie starter Harry Stanwyck for six innings, Cal (24-9) used the pitching change to get something going. With reliever Nathan Slater on the mound, leadoff hitter Vince Bruno lifted a single to shallow center to start the inning. Then, things took a turn for the peculiar.

Slater appeared to have nailed shortstop Marcus Semien on the arm with an inside offering, but the UC Davis bench made a cause that he had gotten a piece the ball on a check swing. An impassioned conversation ensued between catcher Scott Kalush and home plate umpire Mark Beller, but Semien was given a free pass.

Renda advanced Semien to second on a fielder's choice ground ball, bringing catcher Chadd Krist to the plate. Krist lined a pitch up the middle where, much to the shock of all involved, it struck third base umpire John Kinard on the arm. The unexpected obstruction prevented Semien from scoring, much to the frustration of Krist.

"It was typical of our Tuesday games," he said. "Things don't go our way."

That was the last thing that didn't go the Bears' way, though. With the bases loaded, Slater walked Devin Rodriguez on a 3-1 count to give away a run and tie the game at one apiece. His replacement, Ryan Lucas, gave up three more runs on a fielder's choice by third baseman Mitch Delfino and a league-leading fourth triple of the season for center fielder Darrel Matthews.

Cal needed six hits to win; UC Davis (8-22) had 14, and its only run came off a solo shot by Kalush in the seventh.

"They didn't really execute," Krist said. "That's one thing we did really well is execute and get two-out base hits which are big. We can win with not that many hits."

Logan Scott, one of the Bears' go-to relief options, took the mound as a starter for the first time this season. Although he wasn't overwhelming by any stretch of the imagination, he did exactly what Cal needed to get its 24th win of the season, five shy of its total for all of last year.

Usual midweek starter Kevin Miller got - for his standards - a bit of a break. He pitched four innings in relief, adding a few more frames to his 52 1/3 innings of work this season.

"(Scott and I) went to high school together. Senior year he was 10-0, so I was very confident with him on the hill getting the start," second baseman Tony Renda said. "Of course, Miller's always nails. He came in to shut it down."


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

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