Baseball Squanders Leads, Loses in 11th-Again





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SAN FRANCISCO-It's easy to overlook a set of errors or blown opportunities when your team comes out with a victory.

But nothing can refresh the memory of a mistake quite like a last-second defeat.

After squandering an early 4-0 lead, a 6-5 advantage in the eighth inning, and finally a 7-6 lead in the 11th, the Cal baseball team (26-23) will certainly need to run down its list of what went wrong in a wild 8-7 loss to the University of San Francisco (14-35) yesterday at Benedetti Diamond.

Following Alfonso Valdez' game-tying RBI-single-a blooper that took an awkward bounce to elude the glove of Cal second baseman Carson White-Blaine Umeda delivered a pinch-hit walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning to win the game for the Dons.

In the end, the Bears dropped their second straight 11-inning contest, while USF proved it had enough moxie to come out on top of a game that saw four lead changes.

"We've been fighting all year long," Umeda said. "For us to come through in the clutch like that just shows that we never give up."

Cal had several opportunities to tighten its squeeze on the neck of the Dons, but failed to extend its run total during a series of critical spots in the game.

After opening with four runs in the first two innings, Cal experienced a severe cold spell in the next four, accumulating no runs and only one hit, before John Baker's RBI-double in the seventh.

Most blatantly detrimental to the Bears' cause, however, was that seventh inning, when the team failed to execute on a bases-loaded situation with only one out.

"We played well, but only well enough to lose," Cal coach David Esquer said. "And it wasn't just the 11th inning. We were doing enough wrong throughout the game to cause us to lose in the end."

Creighton Kahoalihi (0-1) was hit with the loss after failing to secure the Bears' 7-6 lead, which the team earned in the top half of the 11th on White's solo home run to left field.

But White would only be able to embrace his moment of glory for a short while-the Dons would steal it away in their half of the inning.

The start of the eventful bottom of the 11th began when leadoff batter Armand Gaelan swung and missed on strike three, a breaking ball in the dirt, but Kahoalihi's pitch bounced away from Baker's glove.

Gaelan alertly raced to first base and beat Baker's throw to put the tying run on base for the Dons.

After a walk to Joe Jacobitz, cleanup hitter Steve Booth squared up for a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners.

Valdez' RBI bloop-single came next, followed by Umeda's clincher, which sailed over the head of rightfielder Brian Horwitz.

Yesterday's defeat along with this past weekend's three-game sweep at the hands of Washington brings Cal's losing streak to four at the most critical juncture of the season. The Bears start a crucial three-game series at Stanford Friday.

"It's frustrating," Esquer said. "The way things are now, we're playing for our lives now, really."

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