Jefferies Wipes Out Against Green Wave

BERKELEY -- Esquer and Neu break down freshman righty's struggles as Bears squander 5-0 lead to fall to Tulane, 10-5 to open the Cal Baseball Classic.

BERKELEY -- California head baseball coach David Esquer called Friday night's 10-5 loss to Tulane a "managerial loss," taking on his shoulders the seven-run inning given up by freshman righty Daulton Jefferies, who gave up all seven runs with two outs in the top of the fifth, but his pitching coach Mike Neu politely disagreed.

"All the runs were scored with two outs, and I don't agree," Neu said. "We got to two outs, he made a good pitch and a ball got through the infield. We were close with two strikes a lot. I thought he was throwing the ball great, and maybe he ran out of gas there a little bit, but I think he's earned a shot to get through that inning, but he hung a couple pitches. I don't know that you can think, when he's got four shutout innings, and two outs with first and third that we can think he's not going to get out of it. I'm expecting him to go six-plus in that game. It just happened pretty quick."

The Bears (8-4) got on the board first in the bottom of the second on a first-pitch solo home run from Derek Campbell, a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch by Devin Pearson and a wild pitch to Vince Bruno from Green Wave starter Tyler Mapes, who came in with a 0.82 ERA.

Mapes continued to struggle with dirt clumping on his spikes thanks to a wet mound, and in the fourth, surrendered two more runs on a full-count RBI rocket back up the middle from Pearson and an 0-1 RBI single to right by senior designated hitter Devon Rodriguez to give Cal a 5-0 lead.

Jefferies – who had yet to give up a single run at home – then allowed a leadoff single to designated hitter Nick DiMaggio, and then a one-out single to catcher Jake Rogers. With two outs, Jefferies got a ground ball off the bat of left fielder Richard Carthon, but it snuck through the right side for an RBI single. Shortstop Stephen Alemais then rifled a ringing single up the middle past diving shortstop Mike Reuvekamp for another RBI single, and then Jefferies walked right fielder Andrew Garner to set the stage for JuCo transfer Garrett Deschamp.

The former Junior College World Series champion with LSU-Eunice – Tulane's RBI leader – sent the second pitch he saw arcing towards the wall in right, where right fielder Jacob Wark -- who took a circuitous route to the ball – saw it bounce off the wall for a three-run, bases-clearing double, tying the game at 5-5.

The play was one of two that Wark played into a hit in right field, and after starting the season on a 5-for-6 tear, the big outfielder/receiver went 1-for-4 at the dish and left one man on base.

Deschamp finished the day 3-for-5 with two runs and four RBIs.

"I knew he had a little power," Esquer said. "I think we saw on tape that he had hit a couple balls pretty well. He hit a double with the bases loaded off of our Friday-night pitcher in a big spot that tied the game up after a 5-0 lead, and you give him credit – those are the guys you're looking for. You're looking for guys that can put those types of swings on Friday-night pitching, and help your team come back and win."

The coups de gras then came on a hanging curveball to third baseman Hunter Hope, who promptly deposited the offering over the left center field wall for a two-run home run, giving the Green Wave a lead it would not relinquish and spelling the end for Jefferies, who gave way to Dylan Nelson.

"We're not warming up our bullpen in the fifth inning of a shutout game on a Friday, so you've got to get a guy up and get him ready, and Nelson was ready when the guy hit the homer to take a two-run lead, and maybe that was the point where you get (Jefferies) out," Neu said. "At that point, it was five, and he had a 1-2 count. He's got to be able to make that pitch, as a starter, and I guarantee he thinks he can make that pitch and do it. I think we're going to do a better job of it in the future."

Jefferies took his first loss of the season, going 4.2 innings and allowing seven runs – all earned – on seven hits and one walk, with three strikeouts, upping his ERA from 1.08 to 3.80.

"I'll be honest: That's poor managing on my part," Esquer said. "I think trying to make sure that we maybe establish our starters and get them into starting mode, getting at least five innings out of them, experiment and let him get out of his own trouble when I knew better. I shouldn't have put him in that situation. To be honest, I think that was a managerial loss."

The Bears proceeded to strand six runners on base – including leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, when Campbell struck out looking against reliever Kyle McKenzie -- throughout the rest of the game, as Tulane added another three runs in the top of the seventh against Nelson.

"It just came down to, really, we've said all along at the start of this season, it's those moments – Who's going to win those moments? Are we going to be good enough to win those moments? – their guy doubled off the wall, and our guy struck out," Esquer said. "It's as simple as that. We've got to win those moments more often, and it really is the competition of the game that we have to be good at."

After getting the final out in the top of the fifth, Nelson surrendered a double and a hit batter in the sixth, but got out of the jam by striking out Alemais, but he then allowed three straight doubles in the top of the seventh before giving way to freshman righty Alex Schick. The former starter gave up an RBI single, but got the final two outs in the inning before going another two scoreless, allowing just one more hit and one walk while striking out two.

"We made some adjustments in the bullpen this week, and I think he did a really good job with it," Neu said of Schick. "He's freed it up. Part of it is just him getting comfortable in the game, and he was better at that today. A little less pressure, we were down, he can kind of get comfortable and let it fly, and he was good. We can build off that. We need more out of him, too."

Schick's breaking ball was notably sharper than it had been in his previous outings, as he was able to throw it for strikes on both sides of the plate, and as a swing-and-miss pitch out of the zone.

"That was the best he's thrown it," Neu said. "We kind of got his direction a little bit better, and I think he was good, but we need him to eventually pitch some pretty big innings for us."

ON DECK
With Schick already having been spent, the Bears will start freshman righty Alex Martinez on Saturday against San Francisco at 6 p.m. The Dons scored a big win on Friday by taking down No. 24 Arkansas, 2-1, in the first game of the Classic. Martinez threw a strong 3.1 innings last time out in a 5-3 win over Baylor on March 3, striking out three and allowing two hits and one run. He is currently 0-0 on the season with a 1.08 ERA.

"He's done a great job out of the bullpen, so we want him to give us a chance to win the game," Neu said. "I think he's been good on righties and on lefties. His breaking ball and change have been good and he gives us a lot of options to get both guys out. I expect him to do well tomorrow."

Martinez has been stretched out a bit recently, and after pitching multiple innings in his last two outings, giving him about a 75-pitch leash for Saturday.

"Hopefully, he can get us through four or five and we can get it to our pen," Neu said.

"We need to find another pitcher we can rely on for some big innings," Esquer said. "He's pitched well enough to earn a chance, and we're pitching young, but we're hoping that these four-game weekends will make us better in a three-game weekend."

Facing USF lefty Christian Cecilio (1-2, 4.86 ERA) on Saturday, the lineup will change a bit, too, for the Bears. Wark – who misplayed two balls in right – will likely sit, moving Campbell to right and opening up second base for freshman Robbie Tenerowicz.

"There were a couple plays that maybe somebody else makes," Esquer said. "One hits off the wall, but you've got to play defense in big spots to be good. We're still in the process of trying to figure out who can help us win games, and see really how deep we are. Wark had done a good job and gotten some hits – he was five out of six – and you want to see if you can ride that out a little bit and see what that really means. We're going to keep looking for some players that can help us down the line and be ready to help us if somebody falters or something opens up."

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