Freshman Nicholson's Clutch Hit Helps Bears Take Rubber Game of Series from ‘Zags

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The play wouldn't have earned very high marks for technical or artistic merit, but luckily for the Cal baseball team, this isn't figure skating.

David Nicholson's two-out infield single in the eighth inning-a high chopper that sailed just over the reach of Gonzaga relief pitcher Eric Everson-drove in the go-ahead run as the Bears notched a 5-4 victory over the Bulldogs in the rubber match of a three-game series Sunday at Evans Diamond.

Gonzaga (2-5) came out on top in Saturday's contest, 7-0, while Cal took the series opener 10-2 on Friday.

Prior to the series, the Bears (3-4) had been stumbling through a three-game losing streak and often failed to come through with big hits in pressure situations.

This past weekend the team made a concerted effort to come out with a more vigorous attack, particularly at the plate.

"Guys have been getting on base but we just weren't driving them in," catcher John Baker said. "We've got to come out with a lot more aggression and continue to do a better job with knocking those guys in."

Sophomore hurler Matt Brown (1-0) picked up the win Sunday after giving up only two runs on eight hits in six innings of work in relief of starter Kyle Crist (3 innings, 6 hits, 2 runs).

On Saturday, Cal fell victim to the exact problem that had plagued the team in its previous losses-leaving runners on base.

Despite outhitting Gonzaga 9-8, the Bears' bats went cold in scoring opportunities and stranded nine runners in a 7-0 defeat.

The Bulldogs' offense proved to be much more efficient at the plate.

After scoring two runs against Cal starter Brian Montalbo (0-1), Gonzaga scored three in the eighth inning and two more in the ninth.

Eric Dworkis (2-0) earned the win after allowing only two hits in four and one-third shutout innings.

The Bears handed the ball to their ace, Trevor Hutchinson, in the series-opener Friday. The senior All-American delivered with another brilliant outing in a 10-2 victory.

Hutchinson (2-0) pitched eight innings and gave up only two runs (one earned) on six hits to pick up his second straight win.

In his two starts this season, Hutchinson has given up only one earned run and nine hits, while racking up 15 strikeouts and no walks.

"That's just Trevor for you," Baker said. "Right now I'd say he's probably the best pitcher in the Pac-10."

Cal also got a huge boost from its lineup as the Bears unleashed their best offensive output this season.

Baker belted a three-run home run in the fourth inning, and sophomore Conor Jackson had two hits, including a grand slam in the seventh.

Nicholson and second baseman Carson White each went 3-for-4 on the day.

The Bears visit Santa Clara today at 6 p.m. before returning to Evans for a weekend series against Long Beach State.


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