Jeff Bain subbed for Daulton Jefferies last season for five weeks on Friday nights, and came out with a 2-1 record and a sub-3.00 ERA, so when he got his chance to lead off a series for the first time this year, he of course didn't disappoint.
The sophomore righty flashed a dirty sinking fastball as he tallied his first win of the year, powering No. 12 California to a 4-1 win over host No. 23 Texas, going 6.1 shutout innings and allowing just three hits and two walks, striking out five, allowing one extra-base hit -- a fourth-inning leadoff double to Joe Baker.
"He had great angle on his fastball, which was the key, and it set up all his other pitches," said head coach David Esquer. "He made some real quality pitches, against a good lineup on the road, in a hostile environment. He was outstanding."
It's not often that a team can come into Disch-Falk Field in Austin and punch the Longhorns (5-4) in the mouth, but that's exactly what the Bears did, dealing Texas its first home loss of the season.
"Well, we can't be satisfied; it's not enough," Esquer said. "We didn't come here to win one. It's going to take as good an effort as we had tonight. Our guys were really, really sharp, mentally, really focused. I thought they felt really challenged to play Texas here, and [the Longhorns] get better from here. Their starting pitching only gets better from here on out, so this is going to be a challenge to get another one, for sure."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1647718-cal-jefferies-pull... Cal (6-3) came out swinging, getting men on base in each of the first two innings before finally breaking through in the top of the third.
Shortstop Preston GrandPre led off with a 2-2 single up the middle, and then moved to second on a 2-1 line-drive single through the left side by Aaron Knapp. Facing the Longhorns -- eighth in the nation in sacrifice bunts -- Cal mirrored its opponent with three on the evening, including one from the next man up -- Mitchell Kranson.
With two men in scoring position, designated hitter Devin Pearson ripped an RBI single through the left side for his fourth RBI of the year.
Hot-hitting Brenden Farney then lined a single to right for an RBI, giving the Bears an early 2-0 lead.
Up next was Brett Cumberland. The sophomore catcher had led off the second with a single to right, but grounded into a double play to end the inning and the rally.
Bain came up with a shut-down inning, needing just 12 pitches to get Kacy Clemens (along with brother Kody, the sons of MLB great and Texas alum Roger Clemens) swinging, and then getting quick groundouts from Jake McKenzie and Zane Gurwitz.
“You have to command the zone against a team that you can’t really take off any pitches one through nine,” Bain said. “That’s a really good lineup and it’s really fun when you get to face hitters like that; it brings out the best in you. Winning a game like this saves a lot of our pitching when we are able to execute things the way it’s drawn up. It sets up a lot of great things for the rest of the season when we execute like this.”
After the Baker double to lead off the fourth, pesky Bret Boswell grounded out to first, moving Baker to third. Right-handed hitting Tres Barrera then rolled over a 2-2 change up from Bain, right to Kranson at third. El Gaucho charged hard, fielded the ball and fired home to erase Baker.
"It's just a great pitch by Bain, who throws the change up to get the guy on the front half of his swing, and get him to pull it to the corner," Esquer said. "He pitched to our defense. It was a contact pitch, they were able to pull it and we were able to get the out at home plate. Another great pitch by Jeff."
Bain then got a fly out to end the inning, setting up another big inning for the Bears, who banged out 11 hits on the night. With reliever Jon Malmin on in relief of righty starter Nolan Kingham, Kranson rattled an 0-1 single to center, and took second on a wild pitch to Devin Pearson, who, after a nine-pitch at-bat, took one of his two HBPs to put two men on for Farney.
The Bears first baseman sacrificed both runners over, setting the stage for Cumberland, who redeemed himself with a 2-1 RBI single up the middle to drive in two more runs, his team-leading seventh and eighth of the season. Kranson finished 2-for-3 with a run.
“Farney was up with runners on first and second and he bunted them over and did a good job with that,” Cumberland said of his fifth inning at-bat. “Brad [Sanfilippo] and Esky [David Esquer] trust me with the bat and I was able to take a pitch up the middle to score those runs. None of that could have happened without Farney in that situation, he did a great job there.”
Cumberland finished 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs.
Bain came back with a quick nine-pitch sixth, striking out Kody Clemens and getting Kacy Clemens to ground out to end the frame. After a 1-2-3 sixth, Bain fanned Boswell to start the seventh, before walking Barrera and Michael Cantu, spelling the end for the righty out of Pasadena, Calif.
Senior righty Keaton Siomkin came on, and after allowing Ben Kennedy to reach on a fielder's choice, got the tailor-made around-the-horn double play to get out of the inning.
The Longhorns got a controversial run in the bottom of the eighth, when Siomkin allowed a home run down the right field line by Kacy Clemens that may have not been fair.
"Even more important was the poise," Esquer said. "The ball was foul, and it was not a good call, but he kept his poise and got the next two guys out, which is big."
Despite that frustration, Siomkin fanned McKenzie and Gurwitz, before getting a second-pitch groundout from Baker to end the inning.
Up by three, Esquer pushed the button and called in his almost-automatic closer Erik Martinez, who fanned the first two hitters he saw, before giving up a single to Cantu. He then made quick work of Kennedy, getting him to ground out to second on the third pitch to end the game.
"Pretty darn confident [in him]," Esquer said. "We know somebody's going to have to come through with a pretty big inning in order to beat him. He pitches with great poise, himself, and he doesn't really give in with any lack of confidence when he's got the ball"
Martinez is now 3-for-3 on the season in save opportunities, giving the Bears their fifth win in the last six games. He now has 11 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work.
The Bears will next send Daulton Jefferies (2-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound on Friday at 4 p.m., Pacific, against Texas's Alex Johnston (1-0, 2.45 ERA).