With a 15-0 win over Northwestern on Monday, California set a record. The Bears' 59 runs in the four-game set against the Wildcats are the most runs scored in a series of any length since David Esquer took over as head coach in 1999. The previous high was 51 in a three-game set against Arizona in 2000.
The win secured a four-game sweep of the Wildcats -- Cal's second four-game road sweep of the season -- and saw starter Alex Schick take the mound as a true starter for the first time since March 17, 2015, when he tossed 5.0 no-hit innings in an eventual 3-1 loss to San Francisco (Schick threw a two-inning rehab start against Cal Poly on April 26).
"[Thomas] Eager texted me about an hour before we left for the field, so noon, and I was like, 'Alright, I'm up for it,'" said Schick, who had just four appearances on the year, due to a knee injury. "I had started at Cal Poly, but it was just a rehab to see how I'd do. This was the real one."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1670403-savannah-rennie-ge...While against the Dons, Schick got the no-decision, on Monday, Schick got the win, throwing 5.0 innings, allowing just two hits and striking out two.
"They told me I was only supposed to throw three or four innings, and the first inning, I was just trying to throw strikes and pitch to contact, and get the defense involved, and I seemed to do that," Schick said.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1670075-cal-sweeps-northwe... Schick did allow a double and a walk early, but benefitted in the third from Cal's 50th double play of the season to erase a leadoff free pass to Jake Schieber.
"He got stronger as he went," Esquer said. "He threw harder in the fifth than he did in the first inning, and he threw some quality breaking balls. He's still trying to get his feet underneath himself a little bit on the mound, but I thought he did a good job, and he finished stronger than he started, which is very positive."
After allowing his first hit -- a leadoff single in the fourth to Zach Jones -- Schick was the recipient of yet another double play, a 6-4-3 twin killing -- on a ball by Matt Hopfner, and then got a fly out form Joe Hoscheit.
"In the fourth, I really felt my mechanics click, and I was able to reach back a little for a little bit more, and in the fifth inning, I showed that, got a couple fastballs by guys, and my curveball showed up a little bit," said Schick, who fanned two in his final inning of work, and threw 44 pitches on the afternoon. "I was kind of mad they took me out after the fifth, because I had it going, but we had to get some guys some work. Those double play balls helped."
Schick was backed by five home runs on the day, led by two from Robbie Tenerowicz, who had his first career multi-home run day of his career, slugging his fifth and sixth of the season.
Mitchell Kranson got Cal on the board early, with a two-run home run in the first (his fifth). First baseman Nick Halamandaris hit his fourth round-tripper of the year -- a three-run shot in the fifth -- and third baseman Denis Karas socked his third home run in two days to left center, going back-to-back with Halamandaris.
"You would not have predicted it," Esquer said, when presented with Tenerowicz's six homers, compared to the arguably more powerful Kranson and Halamandaris's five and four. "Rob, his breakthrough was using the middle of the diamond, and that's opened up his swing for the homer. Before, I think, he probably was going for it, and then the mis-hits were not creating a lot of offense."
The Bears now have 11 home runs on the series, after having hit six in the previous 11 games. After losing 12 of 19 coming into the series against 13-38 Northwestern, the sweep was just what the doctor ordered.
"I really think so," Schick said. "Northwestern is not horrible. They have some good arms, have been able to put the bat on the ball pretty consistently, and they don't have the best record, but they have some good guys. For us, regardless of the level of competition, we just needed to see some good results. We'd been stumbling lately, so it was good to see guys be their old selves, play free of mind. We hit a ton of home runs this weekend, so to see the ball go over the wall, to see it go into the gap, to have good situational hitting, that really helped the pitchers out, too."
Karas, who went 2-for-5, may have well cemented his place in the starting lineup, in some fashion or another, for the final six games of the season.
"We're definitely looking to keep him in the lineup, for the time being," Esquer said. "We're looking for something different that will give us a spark, something beyond just relying on people playing better. He obviously has given us something, and Sean Peters has given us a little bit of a spark, and we flipped the middle infield. Karas at third today, I don't know that we'll keep that, but Kranson's played great in the outfield for us before, and I think he's a stronger outfielder than Denis. That'd be something we stay with, as well, and flipping our Sunday starter, our third starter, whether it be Schick or Joey Matulovich. We knew we couldn't continue to hope we'd play better. We had to find a spark."
Blow by Blow
Kranson, starting in left field for the first time this season, after making 18 starts there last year, slugged a two-run shot to cash in Devin Pearson in the first, after Pearson reached via his team-leading 16th hit by pitch. He's the active career leader in that category, with 46, followed by Pac-12 Player of the Week Brett Cumberland.
Cumberland -- who came into the game having gone 6-for-10 this weekend with three home runs and eight RBIs -- followed Kranson's first-inning blast up with a triple -- the first of his career -- and then rode home on an RBI groundout by Nick Halamandaris.
Tenerowicz had a double and a two-run triple in the series so far, and led off the third with a solo homer to put the Bears up, 4-0.
Cal battered right-handed freshman reliever Tyler Lass in the top of the fourth, with three straight one-out singles by Preston GrandPre, Peters and Aaron Knapp adding up to another run, and spelling the end for Lass. A sacrifice fly by Pearson brought Peters home to make it 6-0.
Halamandaris's three-run shot -- cashing in Kranson, who led off with a single up the middle, and Cumberland, who drew a walk -- put Cal up 9-0, breaking the record for most runs scored in a series, and Karas's solo shot tacked on another run to the new mark.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1669853-bears-batter-north... Karas -- who has started all four games of the series after starting just six coming in -- has now hit a home run in each of his last three games, including a pair of three-run shots in Sunday's doubleheader.
After Peters and GrandPre fanned, Knapp sent his Pac-12-leading seventh triple to right center, but was stranded when Pearson grounded out to short.
In the top of the seventh, Knapp singled up the middle to move GrandPre -- aboard on a leadoff double -- to third, for pinch hitter Brenden Farney, who drove him home with an RBI single up the middle, touching off a four-run frame for the Bears.
Cal tacked on another run on an RBI groundout by Tenerowicz after a Justin Yoss wild pitch moved Farney and Knapp into scoring position.
Newly-entered reliever J.R. Reimer then uncorked a wild pitch of his own to pinch hitter Jonah Davis, allowing Farney to advance to third, and he then rode home on an RBI infield single by the freshman outfielder.
Tenerowicz finished off the scoring with a solo home run with one out in the top of the ninth.
• Cal's 51st double play tied the Bears for the 16th most turned in college baseball this year. Cal has played about four fewer games than the national average, in part thanks to two rainouts against Texas Tech. Cal's 1.09 double plays turned per game is the ninth-highest in the nation.
"It doesn't surprise me," Schick said. "We've been pretty solid up the middle. We flip-flopped Preston and Robbie this weekend, so it'll be interesting to see if they stick with that. They've been pretty slick up the middle, and giving pitchers some help when they need it."
• With 12 career triples, Knapp is now tied with Todd Mayo (1986-89) for the third most triples is Cal history. Matt Luke has the most with 15.
• Cumberland, who was selected the Pac-12 Player of the Week before the game started, finished the series 7-for-12, after coming into the series with just two hits in his last 21 at-bats.
• The series was the first time in Esquer's tenure (17 years) that the Bears have scored double digit runs in four straight games.
• Lefty Akaash Agarwal came on to pitch the eighth, seeing a one-out walk erased by a nifty double play from Halamandaris, who snared a line drive by Dunn and tagged the first base bag to end the inning. He's now thrown 4.2 shutout innings in his last five outings, allowing no hits over that span.
• Esquer didn't know that the slated starting pitcher -- Matt Ladrech -- wouldn't be able to go until this morning, though his start had been pushed back already due to illness. He had considered using Erik Martinez, but went with Schick. Both Ladrech and Martinez did throw, with Ladrech going 2.0 scoreless -- allowing two hits and a strikeout -- and Martinez tossing a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit and striking out one.
"He was feeling better, and we gave him a couple innings, and we wanted to see a couple other guys, as well," Esquer said. "We got Erik in there, and Akaash hadn't thrown in a while. Obviously, the lead made it way easier to get that done without any stress."
• Freshman catcher Tyrus Greene took over behind the dish for Cumberland in the top of the seventh, and then slugged his first career double in the top of the ninth.
• The 59-5 aggregate margin of victory in the series was the largest margin of victory in a series under Esquer.
• The series was the third series this year where the Bears have held opponents to five runs or fewer in a series. That's the most ever by a Cal team under Esquer.
• Esquer said that this weekend, Daulton Jefferies will throw between 20 and 30 pitches in relief, and that the rotation will be geared to "sell out to win games one and two, and then see what happens on Sunday." That could include starting freshman righty Matulovich on Sunday.
• Tenerowicz will continue to play shortstop, and GrandPre second base, "for the time being," Esquer said. "Robbie's making the routine plays, and GrandPre has turned three or four really good double plays, where he's been able to outrun the runner with his arm strength."