March 9, 2012
LINCOLN, NEB. -Freshman third baseman Chris Paul hit a clutch two-run single through the middle of the infield in the top of the 11th inning to break up an 8-8 tie and propel California to an 11-8 extra-inning victory over Nebraska Friday (March 9) at Hawks Field in Lincoln. Junior right-hander Logan Scott was able to earn the win in relief, pitching the final 3.1 innings to improve his record to 3-0. Cal improved to 10-2 on the year, and the Cornhuskers dropped to 8-5.
Junior right fielder Vince Bruno led off the 11th inning with an infield single and then advanced to third base on senior catcher Chadd Krist's double to left center field. After an intentional walk to sophomore first baseman Andrew Knapp loaded the bases, senior center fielder Chad Bunting hit a grounder to Cornhusker shortstop Chad Christensen, who threw Bruno out at the plate. Paul followed with his hard-hit, two strike game-winning single to give the Golden Bears a 10-8 advantage. Bunting later scored scored on a past ball by Nebraska catcher Cory Burleson for the final 11-8 margin.
Krist's double was the 51st of his career, moving him to a tie for fourth (with Lance Blankenship, 1983-86) on the Cal all-time list. The Bears pounded out 20 hits on the day, with Bunting (three-run homer) and junior third baseman Mitch Delfino (solo homer) hitting back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning. Krist and sophomore shortstop Derek Campbell each finished with three hits; while Bruno, Tony Renda, Knapp, Delfino and Danny Oh had two hits apiece.
Cal had jumped out to a 7-0 lead with a run in the top of the first inning on Knapp's fielder's choice RBI, a run in the second inning on Campbell's RBI single to left field and five runs in the third inning. In the third, Bruno forced a one-out walk, Knapp had a two-out double and Bunting hit his second home run in the last two games to score three. Delfino followed with a solo home run for his first roundtripper of the season. Finally, after junior Devon Rodriguez double for his first hit of 2012, Campbell had another RBI single.
Nebraska came roaring back with four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning off of the Bears' junior left-hander Justin Jones (5.0 innings, seven hits, three walks, four strikeouts). Cal added a run in the top of the sixth inning on Renda's RBI double to make the contest, 8-4, but the Cornhuskers continued to chip away and scored two runs in the eighth inning and two runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the score, 8-8.
The Bears' Scott was able to get out of the bottom of the ninth inning with runners on first and second base, and then gave up a one-out single in the 10th inning before getting the next two outs. After Cal scored its three runs in the top of the 11th, Scott gave up a lead-off walk and a one-out single, before getting the next two Nebraska batters to fly out to end the game.
"This was a tough road win," said Cal coach David Esquer. "We gave up the lead but didn't give in. This is a game that could have easily gotten away from us but we fought hard to win. I was proud of our ability to deal with tough circumstances."
The Bears next play the Cornhuskers in game two of the four-game series, Saturday, March 10 at 2:05 p.m. Central Time at Hawks Field. Cal will then begin Pac-12 play hosting Oregon State, March 16-18, at Evans Diamond.