BERKELEY – In a game that had several California stars, the Golden Bears were able to come back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Duke, 3-2, Saturday night to win their first contest of the 2015 season. Behind a 12-strikeout game from junior right-hander Ryan Mason, a game-winning squeeze bunt by freshman shortstop Preston GrandPre and stellar relief pitching by senior right-hander Dylan Nelson, Cal evened its record to 1-1 heading into Sunday's rubber match versus the Blue Devils.
Duke had topped the Bears, 7-1, Friday night. The two teams play Sunday at 1 p.m. at Evans Diamond.
Mason gave up two runs to the Blue Devils in the top of the first inning, yielding an RBI single to Cris Perez and a sacrifice bunt RBI to Jack Labosky. He went on to strikeout the side in the first, second and third innings and finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts with two hits, two runs, two walks in 6.0 innings. Mason’s previous career-high strikeout total was seven as freshman versus Fresno State, March 8, 2013 in his first collegiate start. He finished 7-1 last season.
Down 2-0, Cal was able to score twice in the fifth inning on back-to-back RBI singles from junior right fielder Devin Pearson and senior first baseman Chris Paul. The Bears were then able to push across the game-winner in the eighth inning when junior pinch hitter Grant Diede forced a one-out walk. Pinch runner Sean Peters then advanced to third base when Blue Devil reliever Mitch Stallings threw wildly on a pick-off attempt. GrandPre followed with a squeeze bunt single down the first base line that scored Peters.
Meanwhile Nelson was spectacular in relief, recording six strikeouts and no hits in the final three innings to pick up the win and give Cal pitchers 18 strikeouts on the day. Pearson, Paul and sophomore center fielder Aaron Knapp finished with two hits apiece for the Bears.
“Our first win was definitely not easy,” said Cal coach David Esquer. “Duke is scrappy and tough. Hopefully we’ll come out more relaxed tomorrow. Playing these tough games will help us in the future. We were able to get some key hits today from Pearson, Paul and Grand Pre, and after the first inning, Mason was really dominant. He really pitched gutty in the sixth inning when he began running out of gas to keep us in the game.”
Mason Fans 12 in Cal's First 2015 Win
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