April 2, 2011
The No. 13 California Golden Bears found their way back into the win column, jumping on the USC Trojans early in a 9-2 victory Saturday at Evans Diamond. Devon Rodriguez went 4-for-5, including smashing his second home run of the year.
The Bears wasted no time setting the tone in the game. Sophomore left-hander Justin Jones got two strikeouts and a weak grounder back to him on the mound to quickly retire the Trojans in the first. The Bears offense did not go as quietly in the bottom of the first. After getting two batters on, both getting hit by pitches in their helmets, junior catcher Chadd Krist, sophomore first baseman Devon Rodriguez, and sophomore third baseman Matt Delfino hit three consecutive singles, driving in three consecutive runs. The Bears plated three more runs, one on a throwing error, one on a sac bunt from junior right fielder Danny Oh, and the final run of the frame coming from senior designated hitter Austin Booker stealing home to put Cal up 6-0.
After the Trojans starting pitcher, Austin Wood, was pulled after getting just two outs in the first, the game settled down until the sixth inning when Rodriguez smashed his second home run of the season, a two-run shot that landed well inside the adjacent Edwards Stadium track facility, putting Cal up 9-2.
"I think that home run from Devon was necessary," said Cal head coach David Esquer. "That run put the game away for us. I thought we needed one more score to give us some breathing room. Otherwise they could get a couple of guys on and one big swing and they are back in it."
Jones was dominant on the hill, with Cal pitching returning to form. Jones through a complete game, his first of the season and just the second overall for Cal pitchers this year. Jones scattered seven hits, allowing two runs (one earned), striking out 12 while walking one. It was the second time this week that a Cal pitcher struck out 10 or more batters in a game with senior right-hander Kevin Miller striking out 15 batters at San Francisco four days earlier.
With the win, the Bears improve to 18-6 (4-1 Pac-10). USC falls to 10-17 (2-3 Pac-10).
"I thought it was good for us to come back and get the win, to move beyond yesterday's defeat," said Esquer. "Our whole focus is to prepare us to move beyond. This was like being in the loser's bracket. We need to be the team that comes back after going down 0-1 in a series. I thought they responded well."
The series concludes Sunday, April 3 when junior right hander Dixon Anderson (3-1, 2.20 ERA) will take the hill for Cal, facing the Trojans'Logan Odom (2-3, 3.31).