Costly Sixth-Inning Seals Cal's Fate Against San Jose State

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One bad inning.

That's all it took for the Cal baseball team to drop its home-opener against San Jose State, 10-6, yesterday at Evans Diamond.

After trailing 5-3, the visiting Spartans roughed up the Bears' relief corps for seven runs on four hits, two walks, and two hit-batsmen in a seemingly endless top of the sixth.

Markum King keyed the rally with a game-tying, pinch-hit RBI single for San Jose State, which received timely hitting from its big hitters and took full advantage of an inexperienced bullpen that struggled to locate it pitches.

Redshirt-freshman Jesse Ingram (0-2) suffered his second defeat in relief after being charged with three runs in the critical sixth inning, when Cal allowed four runs to score on a pair of bases-loaded walks and hit-batsmen.

After the game, Bears coach David Esquer spoke about the youth of his team's pitching staff.

"We really haven't defined their roles yet," Esquer said. "You hate to lose games while finding these things out, but they're all capable and they'll gain experience as the season progresses."

The Spartans got a sensational performance from senior Jahseam George (1-0), who picked up the victory after effectively shutting down the Cal lineup in his five and one-third innings of relief.

The Bears managed to get only two hits off the lefty, both of them from sophomore Conor Jackson. George retired eight Cal batters in a row at one point, and closed the ninth by striking out the side.

"He pitched a great game," said Jackson, who finished the game with three hits, including a home run and 3 RBIs. "He had his fastball and change-up working and he was placing the ball really well."

The Bears jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, highlighted by Jackson's RBI triple to deep center and Carson White's RBI single.

San Jose State rallied to tie the game in the third, however, when the Spartans capitalized on an error by shortstop Jeff Dragicevich and a wild pitch. The Spartans scored three runs off starter Joe Todoroff. The freshman went only three and two-thirds innings, allowing two earned runs, three walks and two strikeouts.

Cal took a 5-3 lead in the fourth, when Ben Conley drilled an RBI-double to the centerfield fence to score David Nicholson, and Jackson followed up with a single to drive in Conley.

And then the sixth inning happened.

"It was just one of those things where they were hitting better than us," Jackson said, shaking his head. "We gotta hit better than we did today, especially with runners on base. If they put up 10, we need to be putting up 11."

Cal has now dropped three straight contests after opening its season with a 2-0 victory over UNLV Friday.

"We're not gonna let that get us down," Jackson said. "This was only the fourth game of the season and there's a lot more games left."

The Bears host Gonzaga tomorrow at 2 p.m in the first of a three-game set.


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