Oh heats up but Bears fall to Ducks

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As a sophomore last season, Cal right fielder Danny Oh started every game and hit nearly .300. Coming into Saturday's game against Oregon, Oh had started just 18 contests and was batting .179.

It looks like he may have finally turned it around.

Although the No. 20 Bears fell 4-3 to the Ducks at Evans Diamond, Oh had a breakout game, going 3-for-4 and scoring a run.

"Early on, I was trying too hard to hit the ball too hard," Oh said. "But baseball is a fun game to play just because of all the ups and downs you go through."

Oh got the starting nod after catching the coaches' eyes with several notable days of batting practice. He struck out in his first at-bat against Oregon (22-19, 5-9 in the Pac-10) starter Madison Boer, but singled in each of his ensuing at-bats.

With former center fielder Chad Bunting due back in the near future - he's been out since early March due to thumb surgery - the Bears (25-14, 10-7) suddenly have a few extra bats for the home stretch. Because the carousel of freshmen who have occupied the DH spot have been in a slump lately (Michael Theofanopoulos went 0-for-4 today), the starting lineup could yield way for Oh.

"He put himself in position to earn a little more time," coach David Esquer said.

The rest of the game was lackluster for Cal. They didn't play poorly, but the game quietly slipped away from them. Three double plays in the first three innings killed any sense of momentum early, and the Bears scattered hits without stringing together enough of them at one time to make them count.

"A couple guys did the best they could. You can't fault them," Esquer said. "Devon squared the ball up and just hit it right at somebody. You can only control so much."

Lefty starter Justin Jones absorbed his fourth loss of the season in a seven-inning effort. He gave up all four runs in the first three innings, and struck out four in the ensuing frames after he got more zip on his fastball.

"They were pretty aggressive, especially on the fastball," Jones said. "They swung at a lot of fastballs. Toward the end when I was putting up more zeros, they weren't really swinging. They were taking a lot."

With the loss, the Bears now have a 10-7 record in conference. If they hope to catch up with first place Oregon State (31-8, 11-2), they can't have too many more losses. As of this evening, Cal sits in third place in the Pac-10 standings.

"Hopefully other teams help us out, like Oregon State," Oh said.

The Bears can help their cause with a win tomorrow in the rubber match. First pitch, thrown by Dixon Anderson (4-2, 3.71 ), is at noon.


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

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