The California baseball team fell, 5-3, to UC Irvine on Friday night, on the back of three defensive miscues and an uneven performance from senior starter Justin Jones.
After cruising through the first three innings with four strikeouts and one run, Jones and the Bears (3-2) were knotted up at one run apiece, with Cal squeaking ahead on an RBI single from Derek Campbell in the top of the third, before Irvine answered in the bottom of the frame on a leadoff triple from sophomore shortstop Chris Rabago and an RBI groundout by senior left fielder Jeff Stephens.
The Anteaters pulled ahead in the bottom of the fourth as Jones began to lose command. He allowed a 2-0 leadoff single to senior catcher Ronnie Shaeffer, who advanced to second on a wild pitch to Connor Spencer. The sophomore first baseman then took a dose on Jones's 1-1 offering, putting men at first and second with no outs. A bunt single by sophomore designated hitter Jerry McClanahan loaded the bases.
After a pop out and an RBI sacrifice bunt on the part of freshman second baseman Mikey Duarte, Rabago came to the plate again and sending Jones's 1-0 offering right back to the box. Jones committed his second miscue of the inning, misplaying the ball and allowing a run to score, unearned, putting Irvine up, 3-1.
Cal crept back in the top of the fifth, when a leadoff triple by right fielder/tight end Jacob Wark was cashed in by freshman DH Mitchell Kranson's fly out to left.
Wark keyed a second rally in the top of the seventh, when he followed up a leadoff single by freshman third baseman Max Dutto with his second triple of the day, tying the game at three. Wark finished the game 2-for-4, and was the only Bear to tally more than one hit. The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder is now 9-for-20 on the year, with four triples.
After 1.2 scoreless innings of relief by sophomore righty Keaton Siomkin, head coach David Esquer called on junior righty Trevor Hildenberger to hold the line. After striking out the first hitter he faced in the bottom of the seventh, Hildenberger allowed three straight singles, a sacrifice fly, another base hit and a walk, as Irvine scored two runs to re-take the lead for good.
After starting the season with three straight walk-off wins against Michigan, the Bears have now dropped two straight -- one on Wednesday to Stanford, and on Friday against the Anteaters. Cal will square off again with Irvine with a Saturday doubleheader, starting at noon.
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