RECAP: Cal righty Joey Matulovich shuts out Oregon in second straight strong outing

BERKELEY -- Joey Matulovich didn't quite get his second straight complete game, but he gave Cal enough in a 4-1 win to prevent an Oregon sweep.

BERKELEY -- Last Sunday in Malibu, Joey Matulovich stacked up strikeouts like so much fire wood, fanning 10 Pepperdine hitters. This Sunday, he lived on the inside corner, burying fastballs and sliders in on the hands of Oregon hitters and working quickly, getting 19 Ducks to fly out in a 4-1 California win.

Both sides played like they had dinner reservations, and when asked if he had a hot date, Matulovich pointed his glove into the stands.

"I do. She's right there," he said, gesturing to his girlfriend, wearing a highlighter-yellow windbreaker "She's the bright one." It turns out Matulovich isn't too dim, himself, as he was on the pitch chart for Saturday night's 13-2 loss to the Ducks. He saw what was working, and did the opposite on Sunday.

In contrast to Saturday starter Jared Horn, who threw first-pitch strikes to 8 of the 15 batters he faced, Matulovich got ahead of 26 of the 31 hitters he faced, and needed just 96 pitches (68 strikes) to get through 8.0 innings, striking out one, walking none and scattering 6 hits.

"That was the game plan -- they can't hit the ball in very well," Matulovich said. "A few pitches, I left over the plate, and they got good swings on them, and they got hits on those. Just trying to live in, move the ball out, and when they were trying to cheat in, move the ball away again."

Hitters on both teams saw an average of 3.04 pitches per plate appearance in the two-hour and 12-minute affair in front of 1,604 at Evans Diamond. The brisk pace stood in stark contrast to the interminable 3:23 grind on Saturday night.

"That's how I like to work; I just keep going, pitch fast and keep it rolling," Matulovich said. "They didn't like that very much."

The Bears got just 8 hits, but that was all they needed. A pair of back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the second from Jonah Davis and Max Flower gave Cal its first run of the day, and a deep fly to left center by Ripken Reyes brought Flower home for the second.

Then, Matulovich got to work. The sophomore righty retired eight straight before hitting A.J. Balta and allowing a single to Matthew Dyer in the top of the fourth. But, for the first -- and certainly not the last -- time on the day, Matulovich got some help from his defense, as first baseman Andrew Vaughn made a sprinting, twisting grab of a high foul pop by catcher Tim Susnara to end the inning.

“Pitching made the difference,” said head coach David Esquer of Matulovich, who has thrown 17.0 innings with 11 strikeouts with just 2 earned runs allowed in his last two outings, both wins. “Joey was throwing strikes and, you know, he’s done it for two weekends for us, just two great performances. We can play pretty good defense, and our pitchers get strikes and get ahead, and pitch ahead in the count and we play defense behind them, we made some nice plays." needed just six pitches to retire the Ducks in order in the top of the fifth, and got an adventurous foul pop grab by catcher Korey Lee to help him out in the top of the sixth. Oregon did Lee one better, though, as a pop foul by Vaughn in the bottom of the fifth was at first corralled by Susnara, but the ball popped out of his mitt. Reliever James Acuna was there, though, to make sure the ball didn't hit the turf, and hauled it in for the third out.

Oregon finally got to Matulovich in the top of the seventh, when a double into left center by Dyer, a fly ball by Susnara and a sacrifice fly by Spencer Steer cut the lead in half. A diving spear by Davis on a sinking liner to center by Bennett stopped the bleeding.

"Those were huge plays," Matulovich said of the plays by Davis and Vaughn. "They can square the ball up, but if it gets caught, it's just a hard out."

Cal responded in the bottom of the eighth, with Denis Karas's third home run of the year, staking the Bears to a 3-1 lead. Karas was followed up by a first-pitch double into the right field corner by designated hitter Tanner Dodson, who rode home on a worm-burner single up the middle by Davis.

Matulovich allowed a leadoff double into the right field corner by Matthews, before he was pulled in favor of the matchup lefty in Zayne Patino, to face Balta. Patineo hit Balta in the right knee with his first pitch, and the Bears promptly went to closer Erik Martinez. The junior righty fanned Dyer -- who was 6-of-11 for the series -- and then got a groundout from Susnara. After walking Steer on five pitches, Martinez faced pinch hitter Braden Stutzman

Martinez'zs first pitch to Stutzman was high and outside, so much so that catcher Korey Lee had to go out for a brief pow wow. After that, Martinez got two strikes called at the knees, and then a foul straight back. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Martinez spun a slider down and in, and got the swing and miss for his third save of the season. Top Stories