May 30, 2008
LONG BEACH, CALIF. - The No. 20-ranked California baseball team, facing one of the nation's top pitchers in junior left-hander Brian Matusz, was shut out 5-0 by No. 7-ranked University of San Diego Friday afternoon in the first day of the NCAA Baseball Regional in Long Beach. The Golden Bears, who only able to produce three hits against Matusz (12-2), dropped to 33-20-2. The Toreros, the West Coast Conference champions, improved to 42-15. Cal had shut out San Diego, 5-0, earlier this season, Mar. 2, in San Diego.
The losing pitcher for the Bears was junior right-hander Tyson Ross (7-4, 6.2 innings, nine hits, five runs, two earned runs, three walks, four strikeouts). Ross and Matusz, teammates last summer on the USA National Team, were in the midst of a pitching battle through the first five innings before the Toreros broke through with a run in the sixth inning and four runs in the seventh inning for the victory. Ross, expected to be a top round draft pick in this June's Major League Amateur Draft, probably pitched his last collegiate game for the Bears. He stands with 271 career strikeouts, third on the Cal all-time strikeout list.
Matusz threw a complete game, pitching 9.0 innings with three hits, no runs, one walk and 10 strikeouts.
San Diego scored its run in the sixth inning when Josh Romanski forced a two-out walk off of Ross. Sean Nicol then hit a ball deep into the left centerfield gap that Cal sophomore center fielder Brett Jackson nearly made a spectacular catch up against the outfield fence. Unfortunately for the Bears, the ball bounced out of Jackson's glove when he crashed into the outfield wall, allowing Romanski to score on Nicol's double. The Bears finally got out of the inning when junior first baseman David Cooper made an over-the-head basket catch in foul territory on a ball hit by Kevin Hansen.
The Toreros added four more runs in the seventh inning. Things started off badly for Cal when junior left fielder Charlie Cutler mishandled a fly ball hit by Logan Gelbrich. San Diego followed with back-to-back RBI doubles from Jose Valerio and Nick McCoy and also got an RBI single from Romanski and a bases loaded hit by pitch RBI from Hansen off of Ross for the final 5-0 margin.
The Bears' best chance to score had come in the top of the fifth inning when sophomore right fielder Blake Smith started off the inning with a double to right field off of Matusz. Junior shortstop Michael Brady then sacrificed Smith to third base. With Smith on third base and one out, freshman designated hitter Mark Canha was up with the infield playing in. Canha hit a ground ball to San Diego second baseman Hansen, who was able to throw Smith out at the plate on a close play as Toreros catcher Nick McCoy was able to apply the tag for the out.
Besides Smith's double, sophomore third baseman Jeff Kobernus led-off the game with a hit, and Cooper had a hard-hit single to right field in the top of the ninth inning.
"It was a tough ballgame," said Cal coach David Esquer, who has led the Bears back to an NCAA regional for the first time since 2001. "That was as good of a pitching performance against us as we have seen this season. We knew it was going to be a game of inches with such good pitching on both teams. We just gave them a little too much and they took advantage of the opportunity. It was a good battle early, with both teams having some good defense behind them. At this level we knew it was going to be who could make the big play."
The Bears will next face host Long Beach State, who lost 7-3 Friday to Fresno State, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 31 at Blair Field. Fresno State will play San Diego at 6 p.m. on Saturday. If Cal defeats Long Beach State, it will play the loser of Fresno State and San Diego at 1 p.m. on Sunday, June 1. Earlier this season the Bears swept the 49ers - 6-1, 10-6, 4-3 - Mar. 28-30 at Evans Diamond.
San Diego: None.