POSTGAME INTERVIEW WITH PORTER
Through six innings, California left-handed starter Kyle Porter had no-hit the No. 15 Oregon Ducks – owners of the top offense in the Pac-12. Instead of firing back at hecklers as he once did years ago at Oregon State, as an emotional freshman, this time, he took every barb and jab and reminder that he was flirting with history as another log on the fire.
"There were two guys straight behind home plate, yelling at me and telling me, from the third on, every pitch: ‘Porter, you're throwing a no-hitter!'" the lefty said. "Then, I had a shutout, and they wanted to remind me of that, too. It was pretty funny."
The Bears senior, in his final college outing, authored a masterful performance, allowing just two hits and two walks over 8.0 innings, striking out eight as Cal shut out Oregon, 6-0, ending a seven-game losing streak to the Ducks.
"The game plan was to get ahead, pound low and away with the fastball and use the off-speed when I could, and just keep them off the bases," said Porter, who allowed just five base runners all evening, with one of those erased via the double play and another thrown out trying to steal. "They're jackrabbits on the bases, and wreak havoc, so we needed to get the leadoff guy out."
That's exactly what Porter did. After hitting Aaron Payne with a pitch in the first inning, Porter retired each of the next six leadoff men, allowing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the eighth to Nick Catalano before catcher Mike Reuvekamp hosed him at second on an attempted theft. Porter hit Tyler Baumgartner to lead off the ninth, prompting pitching coach Mike Neu to come out and get him, bringing in closer Trevor Hildenberger, who allowed a walk to Mitchell Tolman and nothing else, getting the final three outs on a strikeout and a double play.
"I had no control, whatsoever," Porter said. "I hit the first guy I faced, so they brought Trev in. Don't get me wrong: I wanted to finish it, but I had nothing left in the tank. I left it all out there. I was done."
Porter's performance spoiled Ducks redshirt senior righty Jeff Gold's bid to become Oregon's all-time single-season wins leader, and he finishes the regular season 10-1, while Porter moved to 6-5 to give him 15 wins in his Cal career. After pitching through some pain at the end of his Freshman All-American season in 2011, recording Cal's first College World Series win since 1980, back and shoulder muscle issues plagued Porter during the 2012 campaign, and only at the tail end of 2013 did he start to begin to return to form. His final start of 2014 was perhaps one of the best in his career, and a fitting capper to his time in Berkeley.
"That was probably the most memorable game I've pitched here, other than the College World Series game," Porter said. "The way my career has gone, with the up and the down, to finish on top like that was just, I was thrilled."
The Bears (25-27, 12-17 in Pac-12) got on Gold early, thanks to a two-out single from first baseman Devon Rodriguez and a double to right off the bat of junior designated hitter Brenden Farney.
Cal continued to nickel and dime the Ducks in the top of the second, with redshirt junior shortstop Derek Campbell rattling a leadoff double and coming in to score on a sacrifice fly to center off the bat of his double play partner Robbie Tenerowicz.
Campbell got things going once again in the top of the fourth. After a leadoff single by Farney and a fortuitious catcher's interference call that allowed Lucas Erceg to reach base, the fourth-year infielder rocketed a double to left center field, driving Farney in and putting two men in scoring position. Senior Vince Bruno then sent an RBI groundout to second, before Tenerowicz delivered an RBI single up the middle to plate Campbell, and giving the Bears a 5-0 cushion.
"That was a game-changer," Porter said of the early run support. "It puts all the pressure on their hitters. I can just go attack. They got themselves out a lot, because they were trying to get up there and tie the game with one swing. That played right into my game a little bit."
Erceg would later reach base in a more proper fashion, doubling home Farney with two outs in the top of the eighth.
The middle of the Cal lineup – the third through sixth hitters -- was the key on Friday, after going 4-for-14 on Thursday in the series opener. On Friday, the third- through sixth-place hitters went a combined 7-for-14 with all but two of the Bears' hits, scoring six runs and driving in three.
Cal got multi-hit days from Farney (2-for-3, two runs, one RBI, one walk), Erceg (2-for-3, one run, one RBI) and Campbell (2-for-4, two runs, one RBI).
The Bears conclude the season on Saturday at 7 p.m., facing the Ducks in a rubber match on the Pac-12 Networks.
BSB: Porter's Gem is an Emerald
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