Cal Bullpen Gets Rocked by Gaels' Last-Gasp Heroics

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MORAGA-Any time the Cal baseball team enters the ninth inning with a chance to win, you almost feel as if an outcome in its favor is a lock.

The Bears (22-16) have owned the ninth this season, and have made a name for themselves by pulling out a handful of comeback victories.

But in yesterday's game versus St. Mary's the team experienced a rare collapse in the final frame.

The host Gaels (12-16) scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to blot out a 5-3 Cal lead and steal away a 6-5 victory at Louis Guisto Field.

Brian Vesce smacked a one-out, walk-off, pinch-hit RBI single to score Jason Waugh from third for the winning run.

"This was a total team effort," St. Mary's coach John Baptista said. "The guys were determined to play out the entire ball game today and it paid off."

The ninth-inning rally was sparked for the Gaels when Cal reliever Matt Payne began to falter in his third inning in relief of starter Mike White.

After getting Mike Sansoe to ground out, Payne (0-1) walked the next two batters on eight straight pitches before handing the ball over to Blake Read.

But the struggles only continued for the Bears' bullpen.

After allowing an infield single to Jason Waugh to load the bases, Read walked Mark Teahen to score Mike Harris from third and cut the Cal lead to 5-4.

In the next at-bat, pinch-hitter Adam Thompson roped a hard shot at third baseman David Nicholson, but Nicholson was unable to make the play, which could have resulted in a game-ending double play. Brett Wayne raced home to tie the game at 5-5, before Vesce recorded his game-winning hit.

Wayne (1-0) also picked up the victory after working one-third of an inning in the top of the ninth.

"We just didn't play well defensively and didn't have enough pitching there in the end," Bears coach David Esquer said. "It's a tough loss to swallow."

White, who is normally used as a relief pitcher, put in a solid performance in his first start of the season for Cal.

The freshman lefty filled in admirably for Ryan Atkinson, giving up three runs on five hits, while striking out six and walking two in his six innings on the mound.

Atkinson, who has had trouble with his throwing arm for the past two seasons, was scratched from his start just moments before the game.

"Ryan just wasn't feeling his best today and we didn't want to sacrifice his health or hurt his career for the sake of one game," Esquer said.

Sophomore Conor Jackson had another banner day at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the losing cause.

The Gaels earned a season series split, getting revenge for a 5-3 Cal win at Evans Diamond in March.

The Bears return to Evans this weekend for a three-game set with Arizona, beginning Friday.


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