BERKELEY -- With three early stolen bases on him, a passed ball, a botched exchange and a wild throw to second, California catcher Brett Cumberland was having a bad day. The Bears, defensively, as a whole, were disjointed, seemingly still hung over from a three-game sweep of then-No. 3 Oregon State over the weekend.
A 9-3 double play in the bottom of the first, after visiting San Francisco had plated two runs, didn't help matters. But, with a fourth-inning swinging bunt, everything changed for the No. 12 Golden Bears, leading Cal to a 7-5 win over visiting San Francisco, with Cumberland clubbing his eighth home run of the season in the fifth.
That nubber up the third base line by Robbie Tenerowicz kicked off a four-hit, five-run, two-walk, two-out rally to erase an early 4-0 San Francisco lead, with a bases-clearing triple by struggling center fielder Aaron Knapp and a two-run single up the middle by shortstop Preston GrandPre bringing home the bacon.
"We were [in a funk] early on, and I give our guys a lot of credit: The older players -- [Nick] Halamandaris and [Devin] Pearson and [Brian] Celsi and [Mitchell] Kranson, they weren't going to let us just go down, have another lay-an-egg-on-a-Tuesday," said head coach David Esquer. "They really worked at stopping it, right at the third or fourth inning, and turning it around, and not just giving in, that it was going to be a bad day, a Tuesday loss."
All five runs scored with two outs.
"Many years, tonight's a loss," Esquer said. "We've seen it. You've been here before. You get this type of atmosphere, you come out and you're just not playing well. You just wear a loss that you're not happy with, and these guys won't let that happen. They are tougher than I give them credit for."
Tenerowicz tried to explain away his excuse-me swing against reliever Grant Goodman by saying he blinked, and then that he'd heard dogs barking, but finally admitted that he guessed wrong.
"I just got blown up," Tenerowicz said. "But, I got a hit, so I can smile. I don't remember the pitch. I think I was guessing slider, and saw it up and in a little, but it was a fastball, and thank God it hit the bat, because if it didn't hit the bat, it would have hit my chin."
The Bears (15-6) had three bases-loaded situations, and scored on two of the three on the night, downing the Dons (8-19) despite Cumberland's miscues, and two on the part of third baseman Kranson.
"All triggered on defense," Esquer said of his team's early struggles. "Two balls hit Kranson in the foot, and we just didn't have a clean defensive game, which would have made things a lot easier for us."
The Bears made two errors on the day, after having played three errorless games against then-No. 3 Oregon State this past weekend.
"He hasn't had many days like that," Esquer said of Cumberland, who threw high and to the first base side of the second base bag and allowed two stolen bases in the first, nearly threw GrandPre into a collision at the bag in the second (but GrandPre made a mid-air tag) and fumbled an exchange on a stolen base in the third. "I think those are few and far between. However many games we've played, he's had only one or two where he hasn't been solid for us."
Cumberland's muffed transfer, plus another stolen base, set the stage for another score for the Dons, after a grounder from Allen Smooth kicked off of Kranson's foot, a ball which Kranson then over-ran as he tried to recover, allowing a run to score and making the score 3-0.
In the bottom of the fifth, Cumberland -- who took the golden sombrero on Saturday in the finale against the Beavers -- hit his eighth home run of the season nearly to Alcatraz, over the Edwards Stadium grandstand on the first pitch from reliever Benji Post, extending Cal's lead to 6-4. Cumberland finished the day 2-for-4.
Two batters later, senior right fielder Celsi slugged his first homer of the year, breaking out the two-iron to golf a 1-2 mid-shin offering from Post over the OluKai sign in right center field for his fourth career round-tripper. On nine pitches, Post gave up two dingers, and those two circuit shots put the game out of reach.
After a shaky first college start by freshman Tanner Dodson, sophomore Jeff Bain -- who lasted just 0.1 inning on Saturday, giving up three runs on four hits with one walk, one strikeout and one home run surrendered -- was back to his Freshman All-American form, allowing just one run in 3.0 innings of work, on three hits, with four strikeouts. The only run he allowed was a fourth-inning solo home run off the bat of shortstop Nico Giarratano.
"I'm really proud of an in-game adjustment he made to his breaking ball," Esquer said of Bain. "He came out in his first inning, and his breaking ball wasn't very good, and he and coach [Thomas] Eager got together in the dugout, and he struck out three guys in a row with his breaking ball."
Closer Erik Martinez tallied his seventh save in seven opportunities, going 1.1 scoreless innings.