Shirley, Bears Take Down Dawgs

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While the hoopla surrounding the opening of the new Pacific Bell Ballpark in San Francisco garnered much of the attention in the Bay Area sports world this past weekend, the Cal baseball team was almost 800 miles away from the celebration.

The Bears (15-17, 6-6 in the Pac-10) were busy closing out their Spring Break schedule in Seattle, Wash. against the Huskies (10-15, 2-4) at Husky Ballpark.

Yesterday, Cal rode the arm of Jon Shirley to cruise to an 8-2 win and capture the rubber match of the three-game weekend series.

The Bears had lost Saturday's contest, 8-5, failing to take advantage of a 4-1 lead, but they took care of Washington in the opening game Friday, 10-1, with a strong showing at the plate.

"We've done well (over the break)," Cal coach David Esquer said. "We're looking for consistency. We gave away opportunities to put the game away at times, (but) we've played well."

Shirley and the Bears gave Esquer less reason to worry when they secured a 3-2 fourth inning lead Sunday afternoon.

Cal put up the early numbers when junior Mike Tonis belted his eighth homer of the season in the top of the first inning for a 1-0 lead.

The Huskies responded with a two-run shot by Marc Rittenhouse in the third, but David Sark's solo home run in the fourth and Jason Williams' run scored off an error gave the Bears a lead they would never relinquish.

Shirley (1-3), who was pitching his second game after returning to the starting rotation from a strained right tricep, worked six innings, giving up five hits and two runs while striking out six batters to earn his first win of the year.

Along with Shirley's superb pitching, Cal added five insurance runs thereon en route to its sixth conference win.

"It's the Jon Shirley we expected all season," Esquer said. "That injury gave him a lot of rest. It was a blessing in disguise."

Junior Andrew Sproul replaced Shirley in the seventh to pitch three impressive innings, giving up only one hit to earn his first save of the season.

In Saturday's loss, Cal had an explosive third inning, scoring four runs for an early 4-1 edge, but the Bears were silent with their bats the rest of the way.

Washington starter Jeff Carlsen pitched four scoreless innings to give his squad the chance to battle back. He finished with 7.1 innings pitched with 10 hits and 10 strikeouts.

The highlight of the Huskies offense was Tila Reynolds, who was 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs.

Meanwhile, the main story for the opening game Friday was sophomore Trevor Hutchinson's stinginess on the mound.

Hutchinson (3-3) allowed the opponent to rack up one run in seven innings while fanning eight batters.

Hutchinson received a lot of help from the bats of juniors Clint Hoover and Xavier Nady. Hoover went 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs while Nady was 1-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

"(Trevor's) maturing himself into a definite Friday night starter," Esquer said. "He's (been) very consistent."

Previous to the Washington series, Cal notched a 5-3 victory over Wichita State thanks to the heroics of Hoover. With his squad down, 3-2, Hoover hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to steal the win away from the Shockers.

In the Bears' matchup against then-No. 6 Arizona State during the weekend start of spring break, Cal suffered two straight losses against the Sun Devils before battling back to take a 7-2 decision in the last game of the series.


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