Unlikely Sluggers Power Cal Lineup with Pair of Solo Shots





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Offense has been hard to come by at times for the Cal baseball team. Production from any spot in the order is welcome.

So Bears coach David Esquer had no problem when his No. 1 and No. 9 hitters displayed some power, propelling Cal to a 5-3 win over St. Mary's yesterday at Evans Diamond.

"We're going to need a little more from the top and bottom of the order to help out the middle," Esquer said.

Leadoff man David Nicholson went deep to lead off Cal's half of the third and shortstop Jeff Dragicevich hit a bomb to begin the fifth from the nine hole.

Nicholson's shot put Cal up 2-1 while Dragicevich's blast gave the Bears a 3-2 advantage. Following the leadoff homer in the fifth, Brian Horwitz slapped a single to the right side of the infield to score Conor Jackson from second, which would prove to be the game-winning run.

Nicholson went 3-for-4 on the day as part of 14 hits from the Bears. Blake Read picked up his first win of the season, going three innings in relief of starter Ryan Atkinson.

Jesse Ingram notched his first save of 2002 by working the final two innings.

Matt Dolen (1-3) took the loss for the Gaels, giving up two earned runs in one and two-thirds innings.

Because runs have been so rare this season for Cal, Esquer is hoping the pop displayed by Nicholson and Dragicevich is a sign of the Bears turning the corner offensively.

"It can be contagious," Esquer said of the team's hitting. Thus far, he said, the only type of offense that had been infectious this season had been no offense.

Cal (16-11) hopes yesterday's outing is a sign of things to come on this weekend's road trip when the Bears open Pac-10 play against Washington State.

"Our whole lineup has potential to be good hitters," Nicholson said.

But Nicholson wasn't completely satisfied following the game, noting the Bears managed only five runs despite 14 hits.

"We'll need more than five runs to win in the Pac," Nicholson said.

Cal also stranded 10 runners against the Gaels (8-11), something else he said will be critcical in conference play.

"We need to come up with clutch hits," Nicholson said.

Creighton Kahoalii started in place of John Baker, who is still out with a small break in his hand after being hit by a pitch last week versus the University of San Francisco.

Esquer said that Baker will be out at least another week.

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