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Home runs by Jonah Davis, Karas and Tyrus Greene power Cal baseball to a 12-7 win over Pepperdine

Cal third baseman Denis Karas drives in four as the Bears blow past Pepperdine, 12-7, for a series-opening win.

It was thought that California, with just one upperclassman in the lineup this season, would have to manufacture its runs this season, but on Friday afternoon in Malibu, the Golden Bears got to mashing, using three home runs in a five-run fifth to fuel a 12-7 win over Pepperdine (6-5)

Leading the pack was that one upperclassman -- third baseman Denis Karas -- with a 3-for-5 day at the plate, driving in four, including a three-run home run into the netting, strung between the palm trees beyond the left field wall, at Eddy D. Field Stadium.

Cal tallied 16 hits on the day, while Pepperdine rattled out 13, but the Waves stranded at least one runner in the first eight innings, while the Bears got multi-hit days from five men, and saw six players tally at least one RBI.

"I just thought that we executed a good approach," Karas said. "We were aggressive all day and we were able to get some pitches up in the zone and take advantage. We've got to take advantage when a guy is leaving pitches up and I thought we did that today."

The Waves scoured four runs in the bottom of the ninth to make things interesting, victimizing Lorenzo Hampton in his first outing of the season, touching him up for three runs before he could record an out.

With Cal (5-7) tied with the Waves, 2-2 after three, center fielder Jonah Davis touched off what turned out to be the decisive two-out rally in the top of the fifth. Davis slugged his first home run of the year over the scoreboard and into the parking lot beyond the right field wall, and was followed by a walk by Jeffrey Mitchell and a single by freshman Andrew Vaughn, setting the stage for Karas.

The junior third baseman a towering shot to left for his second circuit shot of the season, and then Waves starter Ryan Wilson surrendered another gopher ball to freshman catcher Tyrus Greene -- his first collegiate home run -- this one to right field.

Starter Tanner Dodson had another rocky outing, allowing 10 hits and two walks in 5.0 innings, striking out three. After being staked to a 7-2 lead, Dodson got a little loose coming around the second turn, allowing back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and loading the bases with two outs. Davis, though, came to the rescue, turning in a sliding grab in the gap to end the frame.

"That's a pretty offensive Friday, even here at Pepperdine where I've seen a number of games," Cal head coach David Esquer said. "I thought we had a couple big swings that relaxed us down. Jonah Davis' swing and then we go back-to-back with Denis Karas and Ty Greene. There were 20 hits in the game within the first five innings, which is unusual on a Friday. Good effort by us. I thought there were a few things we can clean up but I thought we came out and played offense well. We'd like to get Dodson's pitch count down in five innings to under 100 so he can get us into the sixth or seventh. That's going to be a big key, giving our bullpen less work on a Friday."

Waves reliever Christian Stoutland was the next Pepperdine arm victimized, as he hit Mitchell in the head to start the seventh, then allowed a single through the right side by Vaughn. Clearly unaffected by the plunk to the noggin, the speedy Mitchell scampered to third, riding home -- along with Vaughn -- on an opposite-field double to right center by Karas. After retiring Greene and shortstop Anthony Walters, Stoutland walked left fielder Max Flower, who came into the game hitting .357, ending his day. Pepperdine's third pitcher -- Austin Gehle -- allowed designated hitter Matt Ruff to reach on a botched double play turn by Waves shortstop QuincyMcAfee, which brought Vaughn around to score.

Cal reliever Zayne Patino -- who took over for Dodson in the sixth -- walked first baseman Ben Rodriguez with one out, and then allowed a single through the right side by left fielder Brandon Caruso. Both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch, while Patine was occupied striking out Nick Costello, and he then served up a line drive single to left by Chase Lambert, but Flower was there, and came up firing. Rodriguez scored, but a frozen rope to the plate cut Caruso down, ending the seventh.

Davis led off the top of the eighth with a short-hop shot to Rodriguez at first that glanced off his glove and into foul territory, allowing Davis to reach. Davis then, on the first pitch to Mitchell, swiped second -- his sixth theft of the season. Mitchell rattled the next offering up the middle for a single, putting men at first and third.

Vaughn -- sitting on a 2-for-3 day -- then stepped up with an 0-1 single to right, giving Cal a 10-3 lead. Karas again came through, with an 0-1 single to center, driving home another run. Greene bounced into a 1-2-3 double play, but then pinch hitter Ripken Reyes -- who came into the game hitting just .121 on the season without an extra-base hit -- went to the opposite field, slugging a 1-0 double over Caruso's head to bring home another run.

Caruso came up with two men on and no outs in the bottom of the ninth against Lorenzo Hampton, making his first mound appearance after several misadventures during the fall. Caruso parachuted a liner into center to load the bases, after Hampton hit and walked the first two men he faced.

The Bears then went to San Diego native Ian Lutz induced a grounder to first, but it was too slow for anything other than an RBI groundout, as Vaughn could only step on the bag. Lambert flied out to center, but a wild pitch through Greene's legs brought Rodriguez home to make it 12-5, and then Quincy McAfee slugged his second home run of the season, over the wall in left, to make it 12-7.

The Bears and Waves go back at it on Saturday at 1 p.m., and can be viewed live on TheW.tv.

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