Sue Tenerowicz

RECAP: Tanner Dodson walks five, allows 10 hits as Cal drops Pac-12 opener to Oregon

BERKELEY -- Base running oddities and missed opportunities plague Cal in its first Pac-12 game of the season, a 7-1 loss to Oregon.

BERKELEY -- Friday was the continuation of two trends for California and Oregon. On the Bears' side: Sophomore righty Tanner Dodson continued to struggle in his Friday night starter role. He dropped to 1-4 on the season, and threw just 56 strikes in 104 pitches in 5.1 innings against the Ducks.

On Oregon's side: The Ducks extended their 44.0 scoreless innings streak, and junior lefty David Peterson struck out 8 or more hitters for the third straight game, threw 6.0 innings or more for the fourth straight game, and won his fourth in a row, as the Ducks downed the Bears, 7-1.

"Not the Friday-night outings that you're going to need," head coach David Esquer said of Dodson, who saw his ERA swell to 4.67. "You need someone to kind of match up and lock horns with another Friday guy, and give you a good effort. Tanner's been giving them a little too much, whether it's walks-hits per innings pitched, when they got to five [runs], we were going to let him run his 100 pitches. We felt like we're going to give him his 100 pitches, and see where the game leads us." Cal (8-8, 0-1 in Pac-12) tallied 13 hits, but despite going 8-for-18 with runners on base, the Bears stranded 12 runners.

"We put some hits on the board there, and I felt like the game was closer than maybe our guys felt it was," Esquer said. "Then, all of the sudden, you look up, and it's bases loaded, nobody out in the eighth, and -- who knows? -- you get a hit, a big swing of the bat, and you've got trouble."

Esquer said it was one of the weirder-feeling games of his 17-year tenure in Berkeley.

"To have 13 hits, or 10 hits in the first five innings off of Peterson, you knew he was going to be out of the game in one or two more innings," Esquer said. "He was at 80 pitches through four or five, and you're like, 'He's only going to be in there for another inning or two, so we're going to get to that bullpen a little bit, and we're getting some hits; we're just not finishing the inning.' That was the story of the game. We just didn't finish any innings."

In the bottom of the first, Cal got two men on with two outs, with hot-hitting catcher Tyrus Greene at the plate. Greene sent the fourth pitch he saw into left for a single, but first baseman Andrew Vaughn was cut down at the plate on a strong throw from left fielder A.J. Balta.

The Bears got two men on with one out in the bottom of the second, too, but bad baserunning doomed that rally. Freshman Anthony Walters got things going with a hot shot to third that hit third baseman Spencer Steer between the legs, sending Steer to the turf curled up in a ball, and allowing Walters to reach first. Then designated hitter Matt Ruff bounced a single through the right side. With powerful Jonah Davis at the plate, Peterson delivered a ball inside. Catcher Tim Susnara saw Ruff bluffing off of first a bit too far, and fired a back pick to first baseman Kyle Kasser. Ruff broke for second, forcing Walters to advance to third. Kasser fired to the since-recovered Steer, who tagged Walters out to end the inning.

Oregon (12-5, 1-0 in Pac-12) kept the momentum going in the top of the third, led off by a single off of Dodson's foot and into left by shortstop Daniel Patzlaff. Kasser -- who came in hitting .345 -- then ripped a low liner past a drawn-in Denis Karas at third for his eighth multi-hit game of the season (he singled in the first). A sacrifice bunt put two men in scoring position for designated hitter Gabe Matthews, who sent a fly ball to shallow center. After a running start, Davis gathered the fly and fired home with Patzlaff tagging. His throw, which looked to be on time and on line, ramped off the back of the pitcher's mound, delaying its arrival just long enough for Patzlaff to score. Two walks later, Dodson gave up a hard, bad-hop single into left off the bat of Matthew Dyer to plate two more.

A third play at the plate went against the Bears in the bottom of the third, as with two men on and one out, a fly ball to right by Vaughn brought left fielder Max Flower homeward, but he was easily thrown out on one bounce by Ducks right fielder Jake Bennett.

"He's a catcher, so we knew he had a strong arm," Esquer said of Bennett. "When I had him scouted, I hadn't seen him be as accurate with his throwing. We wanted to be aggressive. With this team, if we play too close to the vest and wait for that one big pop, I don't know if we're going to be that team right away. We're going to take a few chances to create our own breaks, and we got caught on a couple of those today." Oregon brought home two more runs in the top of the fifth. The Ducks led off with a pair of singles from Bennett and Matthews, who were sacrificed over by Balta. After an intentional walk to Dyer, Dodson gave up a sacrifice fly to Susnara and an RBI double to Steer.

Cal had another chance to play catch up in the bottom of the seventh, when Jeffrey Mitchell reached on a funky hop infield single to short that Patzlaff couldn't get out of his glove to make an on-time throw. With two outs, Karas -- who had made a highlight-reel play on a sliding grab in foul ground in the top of the frame -- sent a flare to center with Mitchell going. Mitchell reached third in time, but came off the bag, as Steer kept the tag applied on a throw from newly-entered center fielder Carson Breshears, cutting him down, ending the inning.

"Mitchell comes off the bag on the slide, if there's a hit after that one, we could have scored a run, or bases loaded and nobody out, if you get more than one, if it's 5-2 going into the ninth, you're a runner or two away from somebody being really nervous," Esquer said.

The Bears loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, but Ruff grounded into a fielder's choice as pinch runner Austen Swift scored. Shortstop Cameron Eden then sent a hot shot back up the middle off of reliever Cooper Stiles's mitt. Unable to go for the double play, Stiles came home and erased Flower -- aboard on a single -- at the plate. Davis struck out swinging, ending the threat, and Cal's last chance to do damage.

"The philosophy there is, on any ground ball, you would rather be out at home than give them the chance to end the inning with a double play," Esquer said. "When he dropped the ball, that ended the double play chance, but [Flower] is not going to know that off the bat. He's told, if the ball's hit anywhere on the ground, unless it's topped in front, where there would be no double play, he's got to defend the double play. He's got to make sure we give up only one out, and not two."

The Ducks added two more runs in the top of the ninth on home runs from Bennett -- his first career round-tripper, off the top of the Edwards Stadium stands -- and Balta, his 13th career circuit shot.

"They've almost gone away from as much small ball as they've had in the past," Esquer said of Oregon, which rattled out 10 hits on the night. "I think they're turning it loose a little bit more. I think it's a little different than they've played in recent history."

Cal and Oregon are back at it again on Saturday at 6:05 p.m., at Evans Diamond.

Injury Notes

Junior shortstop Preston GrandPre is still in a cast, as his broken hand heals. He's still 3-4 weeks away, Esquer said. Junior lefty Matt Ladrech is still two weeks away from returning from a forearm injury. Ladrech has been throwing off a mound, so he's getting closer. Top Stories