BERKELEY -- California didn't start Saturday's game with Oregon State off on exactly the right foot. After leadoff man Aaron Knapp reached on an error and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mike Reuvekamp to put the speedy center fielder into scoring position, Beavers head coach Pat Casey pulled the home plate umpire aside. He had noticed before the game that Bears head coach David Esquer had left Reuvekamp – who came back from a broken hamate bone last weekend, when the Bears had taken two of three from Stanford – off of weekend's 27-man active roster.
Reuvekamp was declared out, Knapp went back to first, and a would-be RBI single by Devon Rodriguez produced no runs. In another run-scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second, team home run leader Derek Campbell was asked to bunt with two strikes, but he bunted an 0-2 high fastball from Oregon State starter Andrew Moore foul for a strikeout. That was followed by a botched hit-and-run call saw Lucas Erceg gunned down at second before Mitchell Kranson sent a would-be RBI double into right.
"I apologized to them," Esquer said after Cal's 9-3 loss to the No. 2 Beavers. "It's pretty inexcusable that we let that get by us. Reuvekamp wasn't on the weekend roster. We didn't have a weekend roster last week against Stanford – his first week back. I was probably so preoccupied with making sure [Brian] Celsi wasn't on the roster (due to shin splints), and I just assumed he was on, and he wasn't. You don't know what could have come of that [first-inning]. That's unfortunate."
"I think the kids are pretty disappointed, because it was within their grasp," Esquer said. "We still had the opportunity to win late in the game, and we didn't do it. That's disappointing that we're not capable of doing that, yet."
Despite the early managerial miscues, Cal (19-23, 7-13 in Pac-12) was in position to win the game in the bottom of the ninth. After having tied the game at 2-2- in the bottom of the eighth, the Bears got a one-out double from Campbell and an infield single off the bat of pinch hitter Chris Paul in the bottom of the ninth.
Freshman Robbie Tenerowicz -- who botched a would-be inning-ending double play the night before, keying a three-run seventh – grounded into an inning-ending double play with the winning run 90 feet away. In the top of the 10th, Oregon State scored seven runs on four hits, one error and two hit batters, putting the game well out of reach.
"I don't know that it damages my faith in him; he's out there, and I thought that he was our best option, based on what we had left on the bench," Esquer said. "You've got to come through. I believe he'll eventually be the guy that will come through in those spots, but it's rough learning that and going through those things, now. Not everyone just gets to do it every time out. I'm expecting he'll be the guy that will win games like that. He just didn't do it today."
The loss was particularly frustrating given the performance of senior left-handed starter Kyle Porter, who allowed just three hits and one unearned run in 6.0 innings of work, walking two and striking out eight.
"His stuff was good," said pitching coach Mike Neu."He was competitive. He was throwing all of his pitches for strikes. His pitch count got a little high. I thought they did a good job fouling off some good pitches. Sometimes, when you get a lot of strikeouts like that and are racking up strikeouts, your pitch count racks up a bit, too. You start getting that going, you want to strike out everybody and you maybe try to overthrow a little bit, so his pitch count ran high, but he did outstanding. He did a great job."
Porter struck out the Pac-12's leading hitter Michael Conforto twice and held him to 0-for-3 on the day, while only allowing a single run after allowing a back-to-back one-out singles in the top of the third to Jeff Hendrix and second baseman Andy Peterson. With Conforto at the dish and a 1-2 count, Porter pitched out to catcher Mitchell Kranson to try and get Peterson stealing second, but Kranson's throw was low and wide, kicking away into shallow left and allowing Hendrix to score. Porter then caught Conforto looking at a curve on the outside corner and got Dylan Davis to fly out to right to end the frame.
"They're a tough team," Neu said. "They're an offensive team. They're leading our conference, offensively, and he really shut them down. He really did. They scored a run off of, we don't cover second on a steal and kick it, but he did a great job, though."
With over 115 pitches thrown, Porter did not come out to start the seventh, instead giving way to freshman righty Alex Martinez.
"I was tempted to go with him a little longer, but 115 pitches in the six innings, with a little bit of a short week – he pitched last Sunday – I was tempted, to be quite honest," Esquer said. "I wasn't fearful of 125 pitches or so, with full rest, but on short rest, about 115, he was a little fearful about hitting the wall, as well. He mentioned that he wasn't there yet."
Martinez walked first baseman Gabe Clark on five pitches to start the frame, and after a sacrifice bunt and a groundout moved Clark to third, Martinez uncorked a wild pitch on his first delivery to shortstop Trever Morrison, putting the Beavers up, 2-0.
Dylan Nelson then came on to throw the top of the eighth, and struck out Peterson and Conforto, setting the stage for a comeback in the bottom half of the frame.
Tenerowicz scorched a shot over Morrison for a leadoff single, and advanced to third on a one-out single up the middle by Knapp. After pinch hitter Jacob Wark popped out to third, team RBI leader Rodriguez stepped to the plate. Reliever Zack Reser -- brought on to face the left-handed Rodriguez threw a wild pitch on an 0-2 count, allowing Tenerowicz to score and sending Knapp to third on Rodriguez's second hit of the day. Rodriguez was the only Bear to notch a multi-hit night, as Cal rapped out 10 hits to Oregon State's eight.
Rodriguez then sent a bouncer up the middle, behind the bag, where Peterson fielded the ball and threw off-line to first, tying things up.
After Tenerowicz failed to bring the winning run home in the bottom of the ninth, Oregon Stategot to closer Trevor Hildenberger in the top of the 10th, with two well-placed infield singles to the left side. The first was a hard grounder to the hole by Morrison, smothered by a diving Campbell, who couldn't make the throw to first in time. The second was off the bat of Hendrix, who sent a slow roller to the left of the mound, where Campbell charged, but had no choice but to eat the play, putting men on first and second for Peterson, who obliged with a rocket into the left center field gap between Knapp and Vince Bruno to bring one run home.
After an intentional walk to Conforto loaded the bases, Davis sent a hot shot to third that went in and out of Lucas Erceg's mitt, bringing home yet another run. A grounder to first by designated hitter Michael Howard brought a low, bouncing throw home from Rodriguez, scoring a third run and putting Oregon State up, 5-2.
With the bases still loaded, Hildenberger hit Clark, bringing home a run and spelling the end for the side-arming righty.
Freshman Andrew Buckley walked in one run, and then hit third baseman Caleb Hamilton to bring in another. A sacrifice fly off the bat of Hendrix capped off the scoring for the Beavers, and the Bears got a leadoff triple and a one-out sacrifice fly to center by Devin Pearson in the bottom of the 10th, but it was far from enough.
"We're pretty thin right now," Esquer said of his bullpen. "Trevor's almost our last line of defense. Erceg's been down and we'd used Nelson already. We're probably not as equipped for the game to extend after Trevor, as far as holding the game down. It was almost you're just saving pitches when you're taking him out of there. You don't want him to have to absorb 50 pitches in two innings. That makes it tough for us."
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