After an underwhelming 3.1 innings of work in his Opening Day start a week ago, California sophomore righty Tanner Dodson gave the Bears a truly No.1-worthy outing on Friday against a veteran No. 14 Texas Tech squad, but it wasn't enough to hold off the Red Raiders, who engineered an eighth-inning rally to down Cal, 4-2.
Dodson threw 7.0 innings of stellar baseball, striking out five and allowing just five hits and one earned run, but in the top of the eighth, he walked the first two men he faced, and was pulled after a career-high 102 pitches (63 strikes).
"I just lost it, couldn't throw strikes, I guess," Dodson said. "I've got to attack better, in that situation."
Head coach David Esquer pulled his ace in favor of NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List member Erik Martinez. Martinez -- who had a rocky start to his first save of the season last weekend, allowing two straight singles before striking out the side -- couldn't hold the line on Friday.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1756334-highlights-cal-rou... The junior righty fielded a would-be sacrifice bunt by No. 9 hitter Orlando Garcia and threw wide to third. Martinez's throw sailed into left field, allowing two runs to score, and Garcia to reach second. Freshman lefty Arman Sabouri came on, and uncorked a wild pitch on a walk to left fielder Cody Farhat, putting men at the corners. Sabouri got sophomore Michael Davis to ground into a double play, but another run came home, before Sabouri got a fly out to end the frame.
"They bunted into a play where we were going to get the lead out," Esquer said. "We just didn't make the play. We talk about pitching and defense, and it came down to a play that was to be made, and we didn't make it. We were playing infield in, and there was a young play at first, where [first baseman Andrew] Vaughn went for the double play instead of the out at home, which added another run. But, the keys to the game were Dodson pitching great. He kept us at 1-1, but we were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position."
Dodson took the hard-luck loss, going 7.0 innings, allowing five hits and three runs, with just one earned. He walked two and struck out five.
"The pitching side of it, when we pitch at that level, we're able to play with one of the best teams in the country," Esquer said. "We doubled them in hits, and that doesn't happen too often. They are an extremely potent offensive lineup, and we had 10 hits, they had five. Unfortunately, they had four runs, and we had two."
The Red Raiders got on the board early against Dodson, with back-to-back second-inning singles by first baseman Hunter Hargrove and designated hitter Zach Rheams in the bottom of the second. Third baseman Josh Jung rolled into a 4-3 double play, moving Hargrove to third. Hargrove then rode home on a Ryan Long single to left.
After that, though, Dodson would give up a single in the bottom of the third, and didn't allow another hit until a two-out double to second baseman Michael Davis in the top of the sixth.
"I was commanding my pitches," Dodson said. "[Thomas] Eager did a great job calling the game. Ty Greene did a great job, defensively, picking me up, too. My fastball and my breaking balls, I was able to locate both pitches against a team like that."
Cal tied things up in the top of the fifth, when fifth-place hitter Jonah Davis banged a first-pitch leadoff single to right. With one out, catcher Tyrus Greene served a single into left, moving Davis to third. That set the stage for sophomore left fielder Lorenzo Hampton, who drove in the first run of his career with a roller to short.
The Bears, though, would strand eight baserunners over the first eight innings, leaving the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, when two-out singles by Andrew Vaughn and Denis Karas, and a walk by Davis were left on the table when hot-hitting freshman Anthony Walters looked at a called third strike on a 2-2 offering from Texas Tech starter Davis Martin.
In the top of the ninth, Cal got a leadoff double from Greene, who moved to third on a wild pitch to pinch hitter Matt Ruff. An RBI single up the middle by Ripken Reyes on an 0-1 offering from junior left-handed reliever Jacob Patterson cut the lead to 4-2, but sophomore right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell went down swinging on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.
"It shows that we can hang with any team in the country," Dodson said, of the close loss to a top-15 team. "They're a good lineup."
The Bears will send freshman righty Jared Horn to the mound on Saturday at 10 a.m., PT, for the front end of a doubleheader. Cal will then start lefty either freshman righty Rogelio Reyes or sophomore righty Aaron Shortridge in the final two games of the series, with the second half of the twin bill starting at 2 p.m. Junior lefty Matt Ladrech felt some forearm tightness after his last start, and is unavailable this weekend. Esquer said he may be down for two weeks. Reyes and Shortridge, though, may wind up working in relief of Horn, if need be.
"If, in Horn's game, if we're in a position to win, we're going to empty the tank," Esquer said. "We're in that step-up mode again."