Cactus League Turns into Cal Reunion

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Marcus Semien continues his torrid hitting, as he reunites with former Cal teammates Mark Canha and Mitch Delfino in the Cactus League, where the Oakland Athletics downed the host San Francisco Giants, 9-2.



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Three members of the 2010 California baseball team took the field for the Bay Area Major League Baseball teams on Wednesday in the second game of Cactus League play for both the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants, and all three played major rolls for their respective teams.

Marcus Semien got his second straight start at shortstop for the Athletics, and continued his torrid hitting from the day before, when he went 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBIs in a 9-4 route of the visiting Giants.

“That was cool,” Semien said of his first-inning homer on Tuesday against reigning World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner. “I got behind 0-2, and I was glad I was able to battle and put a good swing on it. It was cool to face Bumgarner for the first time, see what his stuff looks like in person. Just to get live at-bats feels good. It was an 0-2 fastball up and in a little bit, and I brought my hands in, trying to react, and I got it up there. The second one, was an 0-1 fastball in. Same thing: Just react. The first game, you have a little bit of jitters. No matter how many intrasquads you play, or fungoes you take, you’re playing against a different team, got fans in the stands. It’s nice to get the first one out of the way, but there’s still a lot to work on.”

On Wednesday, Semien had a pair of RBI singles, the first coming in the top of the first for Oakland driving home Stanford alum Sam Fuld and Josh Reddick, and the second coming in the top of the fourth – a fly-ball single to center to plate Reddick.

Semien finished the day 2-for-2 with two runs scored and three RBIs, and has now driven in seven runs in the past two games, going 5-for-5.

“It’s great for him to be able to get off,” said A’s manager Bob Melvin. “We know he’s a good athlete. We know he’s got a lot of ability, but to fit in – he hit a couple homers and did some good things like that – makes you feel like you belong.”

Another former Bear, Mark Canha, appeared in his second straight game, this time as a pinch hitter after starting Tuesday at first. Canha went 1-for-2 with solo home run in the top of the fifth to put the Athletics up, 9-2.

Canha nearly had another hit in the top of the seventh, when, with two outs, he lofted a short pop to the mound, but pitcher Curtis Partch lost the ball in the sun, allowing it to fall to the grass. Third baseman -- and Semien's 2011 College World Series teammate -- Mitch Delfino came sprinting across the diamond, fielded the ball and fired to first to erase his former teammate and end the inning.

“There was another chopper that a pitcher lost in the sun, a little bit, and then the runner was safe, so it was almost the same play,” Delfino said. “He lost it in the sun again, so I thought I’d be there, just in case.”

Delfino and Canha finally met at first base when Delfino – who entered in the fifth inning as a defensive replacement – sent a roller to the hole at short and beat the throw for an infield single – his first of the spring. He and Canha greeted one another warmly at first, sharing a laugh.

“We just said, ‘What’s up?’ I haven’t seen him in a while,” said Delfino. “He just said, ‘Attaboy,’ and we talked about his home run, and how Marcus can’t get out right now. It was just a little small talk.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy gushed about Delfino after Wednesday’s game.

“He looked good, he looked comfortable,” Bochy said. “He had a nice play. You love his style of play. He’s a tough kid. I talked to the development people, and they love him, the way he plays the game. He plays hard, all-out, plays it right. I’m glad to see these kids get some playing time today, so I could watch them.”

Last season, Delfino hit .289, slugged .424 and dropped 12 home runs for the High-A San Jose Giants, driving in 77 runs, slugging 28 doubles and posting a .333 on-base percentage. He got up to Double-A for the playoffs, and is expected to start at that level once the season begins.

OTHER CAL NOTES
The current Golden Bears won their fourth straight game on Wednesday night at Evans Diamond, moving to 9-3 on the season in an 11-0 defeat of the University of San Francisco.

A three-run home run by senior Chris Paul off the video scoreboard in left field -- his second longball of the year, giving him 9 RBIs – started things off in the bottom of the first, and that proved to be plenty for freshman righty Jeff Bain, who earned his second win, going 6.0 innings with one walk and four strikeouts.

Junior second baseman Max Dutto also went yard, popping a two-run homer to right in the seventh to put the Bears up, 10-0. Dutto went 2-for-4 on the day with two runs, and is now hitting .316 on the season. Sophomore center fielder Aaron Knapp continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-4 with a double. He is now 8-for-12 in his last three games, with a double, six runs and an RBI.

Freshman shortstop Preston GrandPre went 3-for-4 with a double in the nine-hole, scoring two runs and driving in two, as well. He’s now 4-for-8 in his last two games, and is now hitting .349 on the season. Paul upped his average to .378, and Knapp to .362.


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