BERKELEY -- Birthday boy Cameron Eden wasn't able to get in on the fun of a four-run first for California, grounding out to end the two-out rally, but he did get to rip open a present later in the Bears 12-2 win over Washington State (14-9, 1-3 in Pac-12), a win which broke a four-game losing streak for Cal (10-13, 2-5).
With two outs in the bottom of the third, Eden golfed line-drive home run over the left field wall for his second home run of the season, a two-run shot to give Cal a 6-0 lead on his first birthday home run. Eden went 1-for-5 on the day, but nearly was 2-for-5, with a high drive to left coming just short of his second home run of teh season in the bottom of the fourth.
"The first at-bat, I got a fastball in, grounded out to first; second at-bat, fastball in, same thing; I knew they were going to back me up with another fastball, and I was sitting on it," Eden said.
Eden drove in three runs on the day, including one in the eighth on a fielder's choice grounder. Eden also made a sparkling play in the field, reaching back to his right as he slid left on a bad-hop grounder in the ninth, picking the ball off his back shoulder and firing back to first.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1767573-highlights-cal-bea...Eden's circuit shot was just the second hard-hit ball on the day off of left-handed Cougars starter Damon Jones, who got roughed up in the bottom of the first, and never recovered, giving up 9 earned runs on 10 hits, 3 walks, 2 hit batters and 2 errors in 3.2 innings of work.
Jones threw 38 pitches in the bottom of the first, and despite getting two strikes on five of the nine hitters he faced, was done in by a death-by-a-thousand-paper-cuts approach by the Bears, starting with a changed call.
With one out in the first, normal leadoff man Jeffrey Mitchell sent a first-pitch swinging bunt up first. The ball went in and out of the webbing of Jones's glove, and while first baseman James Rudkin was able to scoop it up, he didn't quite tag Mitchell going by. Mitchell was initially ruled out, but after an umpire conference, that call was reversed.
Another softly-hit ball by Pac-12 home run leader Andrew Vaughn snuck past the mound, and charging Washington State second baseman Dillon Plew couldn't field it cleanly, putting men at first and second. A fly ball to center by Denis Karas moved Mitchell to third, and another bleeder by Tanner Dodson through the right side broke the seal.
Cal's first well-hit ball of the night came courtesy Jonah Davis, who ripped a bouncer inside the line at first, past a diving Rudkin and into the right field corner, riding the foul line the whole way. Two runs came around to score, followed by a third on a 2-0 roller through the right side by freshman left fielder Max Flower, putting the Bears up, 4-0, before the seats were even warm.
Cal rattled out 12 hits on the day, with Vaughn leading the charge, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and Davis finishing 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Mitchell finished 2-for-3 with 2 runs scored.
Horn Takes Another Step
Cal starter Jared Horn -- who's had his struggles adjusting to the college game after eschewing a surefire first-round pick in the MLB Draft -- didn't get to 38 pitches until he'd finished the third inning. Horn got out of a one-on, no-out jam thanks to an unassisted double play by first baseman Vaughn on a liner by Shane Matheny, and a slick fielding job by Karas at third for the final out. It was the first of two times Horn was able to get Matheny -- who came in sixth in the Pac-12 in batting, third in doubles with 11 and second in slugging -- in a clutch spot.
"I started attacking," Horn said. "I wasn't trying to pitch around anyone. I was just trying to attack with my fastball, and steal strikes with my curveball when I had to."
Before the game, pitching coach Thomas Eager said that Horn -- who came in having walked 18 men in 26.0 innings, allowing 25 hits and struggling to find a consistent curve -- just needed to get comfortable on the mound, and even when facing two late-game jams, he found his center, throwing the curve in any count, including full, to get hitters out.
"I don't think that was the best his curveball's been, in my opinion -- there's been times where it's been a good swing-and-miss, and has good bite -- but at times, it was probably the best he's commanded it," Eager said. "I think it can still be better. He had a little too much hump in it early, but he did whatever it took to command it. Today was the best his fastball's been, as far as beating up bats."
In the top of the fifth, Horn walked two straight men after allowing a leadoff single, loading the bases with no outs. Horn, though, stayed in command, continuing to change eye levels with his fastball and throwing his curve for strikes to both sides of the plate. He fooled Plew on a darting fastball away for a strikeout, then sat down Matheny on a hammer curve at the knees and ran the count full against Rudkin before getting a foul out off his fists to strand three.
"He joked early in the year, and said that he doesn't like pitching with guys on second base, but he doesn't mind if they just go to third," said Eager. "I laughed. As soon as he got bases loaded, it was just, 'Let's go to work.' I think the one thing that Jared has shown throughout the fall, and since he's been here, is his competitiveness. It's almost like he'll will himself through that inning. The walks are freebies, but now, it's time to get down to business, and he put his money where his mouth was, and shoved it."
Horn confessed to not knowing who Matheny was -- and where he ranked in the Pac-12 -- despite the junior hitting .384 coming into the weekend.
"I just took it as I would any other batter," Horn said. "I've got confidence in my stuff, and attacked him with fastballs early in the count."
Horn stranded another pair in the top of the sixth, getting Andres Alvarez to foul out to third after allowing a ringing double to left center by junior DH Blake Clanton, and then walking left fielder Justin Harrer.
The freshman out of Napa (Calif.) Vintage threw a career-high 114 pitches in 6.0 innings, earning his second collegiate win, giving up 4 hits and 5 walks, while striking out 4.
"I felt really comfortable," he said. "Stuff's starting to click."
Offense Keeps Humming
The Bears, meanwhile, added another three in the fourth, starting with Cal's second triple on the day. A hot shot inside the first base bag by Mitchell turned into an ersatz inside-the-park home run, when the throw from right fielder J.J. Hancock came in off-line, and Mitchell was able to scamper home to make it 7-0, Cal. After walking Karas and hitting Dodson with two outs, then walking Flower to loaded the bases, Jones gave up a 1-1 rocket off the bat of Ripken Reyes through the left side to plate two more. Reyes had come in hitting just .140 on the year.
Reyes was in the middle of another two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh. Reyes worked a one-out walk to spell the end for reliever Parker McFadden, who had thrown 2.2 scoreless innings up to that point. 6-foot-7 David Wallum came on and, after striking out Eden, surrendered a fading liner tailing into left center by catcher Tyrus Greene. With men at the corners, Wallum plunked Mitchell -- 2-for-3 on the day -- in the head to load the bases. Mitchell exited for pinch runner Lorenzo Hampton.
Pac-12 home run leader Vaughn then stepped up with the bases juiced and sent a two-run single to left. Wallum hit Karas in the head two pitches later, ending his evening.
Matheny came up with the bases loaded a second time in the top of the eighth against reliever Jack Wolger, and sent a two-run double into left center field. Late-inning defensive replacement Ryan Ramsower, though, held at third as Matheny tried to make the double a triple, leaving Matheny with nowhere to go but into Karas's waiting tag.
Cal will continue the series on Saturday at 6:05 p.m., with Joey Matulovich (3-0, 3.51 ERA) going against Cougars righty Ryan Walker (2-2, 6.21). The series will conclude on Sunday at 1 p.m., when, head coach David Esquer said, lefty Matt Ladrech will take the hill for his second appearance coming off a forearm injury. He will be opposed by Washington State southpaw Cody Anderson (3-1, 2.06).