Sun Devils sweep Bears with 6-0 win

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Cal baseball coach David Esquer stormed out of the dugout, livid after pitcher Dixon Anderson was called for a balk in the fourth inning. Two frames later, a second balk had Anderson turning toward the first base umpire and slamming both hands down into the dirt with anger and disbelief.

Both calls scored runs for No. 9 Arizona State Saturday afternoon, but they didn't end up being go-ahead runs in the Sun Devils' 6-0 win. It was only the Bears' second shutout loss of the season, with its first coming in the second game of the series sweep.

The teams were deadlocked, 0-0, through the first three innings. ASU left fielder Johnny Ruettiger walked on a 3-1 count to open the fourth, and advanced to second on a groundout. An error by Cal second baseman Tony Renda on the ensuing at-bat gave the Sun Devils runners on first and third.

Designated hitter Joey DeMichele sailed a single into right field to score Ruettiger. Then Anderson, who attempted more pickoffs at first than usual, then got called for the balk that put ASU up 2-0. Esquer chewed out first base umpire Tim Vessey for several minutes until he was ejected from the game.

Anderson (4-2, 3.71 ERA) rebounded to go three up, three down in the fifth, but things fell apart again in the sixth inning. Two straight singles put the Sun Devils in scoring position, with a sac fly moving Ruettiger to third. Another balk put Cal (24-12, 9-6 in the Pac-10) in a 3-0 hole and led to pitching coach Dan Hubb's ejection after he shared some words of his own.

"That's the way I've been doing it all year ... I made an attempt to be more obvious with my step to third after they said the first one," Anderson said. "I think you saw the surprise."

It likely wouldn't have changed the final outcome. First baseman Zach Wilson sent a two-run homer over left center, dropping it just past the "365" painted on the outfield fence.

DeMichele capped the scoring with a solo shot of his own in the eighth inning for ASU (28-9, 11-4), bouncing it off the Evans Diamond scoreboard.

Pitcher Jake Barrett shut out Cal in all nine innings, retiring the side in three of them. The sophomore from Mesa, Ariz., did it despite striking out only two, forcing the Bears to swing early and into a variety of groundouts and pop flies.

"He threw strikes," Renda said. "When you see a strike, you hit it, and they made it tough, whether it was movement or the fact that he had a little bit of velocity."

Only leadoff hitter Vince Bruno had any sort of success, going 2-for-3 with a sixth-inning double that almost became a highlight-reel catch by Ruettiger until he hit the ground. The rest of the Cal lineup went 3-for-27.

"This is not us. We haven't been shut out all year long, and we get shut out two days in a row," Renda said. "It's pretty ridiculous, and I don't think any of us are going to stand for that."


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

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