Thursday, the Cal baseball team couldn’t score a run, falling to USC 1-0 in a rare pitchers’ duel. On Friday, they just couldn’t score enough.
The Bears had USC starter Rik Currier on the ropes early, but failed to deliver the knockout blow. Jon Brewster’s two-run single kick-started a four-run fourth inning that powered the Trojans (26-12, 8-3 Pac-10) to a 5-3 victory over Cal (21-18, 6-8) yesterday at Evans Diamond.
Currier (7-1) withstood a rough start to throw seven innings for the victory. Fraser Dizard pitched the final two innings for his fifth save.
The Bears struck early in the game, but squandered opportunities to put USC away. Cal rapped three straight singles in the bottom of the first; the third, by Brian Horwitz, drove in Ben Conley with the Bears’ first run. But the Bears would leave the bases loaded as Spencer Wyman struck out looking and Clint Hoover grounded to third to end the inning.
Horwitz drove in another run in the second with a sac fly, but the ensuing throw from Persell was re-directed to third, nailing Conley as he tried to advance and ending the inning. In the next inning, the Bears scored their third run on Wyman’s RBI single. Cal had runners at first and third with no outs, but were unable to push any more runs across. The Bears left five runners on base in the first three innings, and left nine on overall.
“Again, we didn’t take the game when we had the chance,” said cal head Coach David Esquer.
Jason Dennis (3-3) pitched well for the Bears. After giving up a leadoff triple to Seth Davidson (who scored), Dennis retired 11 consecutive Trojan batters. His streak ended when he hit leftfielder Josh Persell with a pitch, but Dennis then picked Persell off at first base to end the fourth inning. “I felt good, and my stuff was pretty good,” said Dennis afterwards.
In the fifth, things turned against Dennis. Alberto Concepcion led the inning off with a walk, and advanced to second on Bill Peavey’s single. Abel Montanez then laid a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single, loading the bases with no outs. After Brewster’s single tied the score, Michael Moon chopped a ball to Carson White at second. White bobbled the ball, causing his throw to arrive late at first, again loading the bases. Dennis then walked in a run and allowed a sac fly before working his way out of the inning with USC taking the 5-3 lead.
“Jason (Dennis) hurt himself with a couple of walks, but otherwise he threw well,” said Esquer afterward. “Our pitching has been pretty good, but since we play in a lot of close games, our mistakes are magnified.”
Brian Montalbo threw two and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief for the Bears.
Cal had one last chance in the final inning. Jackson singled with one out, and reached second John Baker was hit by a pitch. With two outs, the fastball-hitting White was at the plate- exactly the scenario Esquer wanted.
“(The coaching staff) said at the beginning of the inning that we wanted Carson to get to the plate,” Esquer said.
White smacked Disard’s fastball deep into right-centerfield, but Brian Barre caught it just in front of the wall for the game’s final out.
Cal has now lost every series in Pac-10 play with the exception of the Washington series. The Bears play the finale against the Trojans today at 1 p.m.