BERKELEY -- No. 12 California saw its winning streak halted at four, as they ran into a buzzsaw with reigning Big 10 Pitcher of the Week, Oliver Jaskie, who earned the 5-0 win for No. 20 Michigan over the Bears for his second straight victory.
"It's one of those games where you play your fourth game in four days, and you just really laid an egg," head coach David Esquer said. "We didn't play very well at all in a lot of facets."
The sophomore lefty used his devastating change up -- which he's taught other Michigan hurlers -- to great effect, baffling a Cal lineup that had scored 25 runs on 28 hits over the past two games, striking out six in 5.1 innings of work, and though he labored, throwing 98 pitches, he allowed just three hits to the potent Bears.
"He pitched very well," Esquer said. "The starter was a good left-handed pitcher, a good college pitcher. He's got three or four pitches that he throws for strikes, and the one thing they did -- they did not give in the whole day. I think the count was 3-2 five or six times, and they threw a breaking ball, every single time, and they executed the pitch."
The Wolverines were aggressive, despite playing the fourth game in a stretch where they will play eight games in nine days, rattling off eight hits and rolling through seven Bears pitchers.
Cal freshman Aaron Shortridge took the mound for his first college start, and it was even briefer than his mid-week relief appearance against San Francisco (3.0 IP, 0 R, 2 Ks), which earned him his first collegiate victory last week. Shortridge went 2.0 innings, and allowed three hits and a walk, throwing 38 pitches.
"We didn't start off well, and it was not our best game, by far," Esquer said. "It was probably the worst game we played all year, and yet, I thought we still had some chances to get back in the game."
The real damage, though, was done in the third, against freshman Tanner Dodson. Dodson allowed a leadoff double on a sinking liner to center by Jake Bivens, and then a laced single inside the third base line by Matt Ramsay to bring Bivens home. After Cody Bruder grounded into a 4-6 force, first baseman Carmen Benedetti sent a high fly ball to left. Nick Halamandaris -- playing left because of Devin Pearson's injured shoulder forcing him into the DH role -- took a circuitious route to the ball, allowing it to glance off his glove, putting men at second and third. After Dodson tallied a strikeout against Harrison Wenson, he allowed a two-run double inside the bag at third to third baseman Drew Lugbauer.
"That's the first one of those kind that we've seen," Esquer said of Halamandaris's play. "He's fielded everything else cleanly. A big, strong guy hits the ball with some slice, and he over-ran the ball. It was a clear misplay. We haven't seen that, but that's probably what it looks like [a first baseman playing left]."
Pearson -- who has had shoulder issues in the past, but never this severe -- continues to be bothered by his right wing, as he has been since fall.
"We're not sure," Esquer said on when Pearson would return to the field. "He's just trying to rehabilitate the arm, and it's not a surgical issue, but it's just in bad shape. It hasn't bothered him to this extent, not to this extent. It happened this fall. Really, you can't explain how it happened. He's not sure. He threw the day before, and the next day, he was having difficulty throwing."
Cal's most effective pitchers were sophomore Jeff Bain (1.0 IP, 1 BB, 1 H, 2 Ks) and freshman Joey Matulovich, who came on in a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the top of the seventh, and after submarining right Jordan Talbot hit a batter and walked two in his second inning of work.
Bain is still set to throw on Thursday to lead off the series against Texas, and his inning of work served as his bullpen, which was originally scheduled for Monday, anyway.
"We would not have jeopardized him starting against Texas," Esquer said.
The Bears had its best scoring opportunity in the bottom of the seventh, when Robbie Tenerowicz led off with a single through the right side. After Preston GrandPre struck out, center fielder Aaron Knapp -- who earlier ran the Bears out of an inning by trying to capitalize on a hard hop to short off the bat of Mitchell Kranson in the bottom of the third, but was thrown out at third.
"It wasn't there," Esquer said. "If you point to two or three things, and say, 'If that's going to happen, it's not going to be your day.' We get the leadoff double, we don't move him over, we don't score him, we try to move up on an error when there was nothing there, the guy hits a right-on-left slice down the line over the top of the base, an indefensible ball -- you're thinking, 'Those things happen, you wonder if it's not going to be your day.'"
In the bottom of the eighth, the Bears had another chance to strike, when Brenden Farney doubled to lead off the frame, but then saw hot-hitting Brett Cumberland (5-for-9 in his last two games with five RBIs) strike out swinging against reliever Mac Lozer, then Halamandaris pop out to third against hard-throwing lefty Carmen Benedetti -- who started the game at first base. Benedetti -- who only started pitching last year -- then struck out senior Brian Celsi looking at a pitch on the outside corner to shut down any rally Cal may have had brewing.
"We have a lot of maturity on this team, a lot of experience, and luckily we have a freshman class to follow, a sophomore class to follow, so we're going to bounce back from this," said Celsi. "It definitely was a little flat out there today, on my end, on everyone's end. We can't let games like this get away from us, having a top-20 team come in. I'm not going to say they handed it to us, but we definitely could have won that game."
Michigan (6-2) added another run in the top of the ninth off of Cal closer Erik Martinez, who surrendered a two-out RBI double off the right center field wall by Lugbauer, before lefty Akaash Agarwal came on to get a fly out to center by Johnny Slater.
The Bears (5-3) now hit the road for a four-game set at Texas (5-3), which dropped out of the top 25 this week, and plays at Texas State in San Marcos, Tex., on Tuesday.
"No one ever wants to lose, and sure, it knock us back a little bit, and gets us hungry for Texas, but we're not a complacent team," Celsi said. "We're hungry, and we're going to keep going after them. It's going to be a hostile crowd in a big stadium. It's Texas. It's college baseball. We're going to be ready to go. We've just got to flush this one, and get on the other side of it."