Cal freshman Andrew Vaughn hits his second walk-off home run to beat USC

BERKELEY -- Andrew Vaughn hits his second walk-off home run of the season, downing USC 8-6 in 10 innings.

BERKELEY -- Before Friday, California first baseman Andrew Vaughn hadn't hit a walk-off home run since Little League. On Sunday, with one out in the bottom of the 10th, and a man on first, Vaughn hit his second in three days.

The freshman out of Santa Rosa (Calif.) Maria Carrillo hit a walk-off grand slam on Friday night, and ended Sunday's game against USC with a two-run home run to left in the bottom of the 10th, wiping away a ninth-inning implosion by reliever/center fielder Tanner Dodson for an 8-6 win.

"It's unbelievable, and honestly, I can't really describe it; I don't know what I'm feeling," Vaughn said. 

Vaughn -- the Pac-12 home run leader -- finished the weekend 6-for-12 with 11 RBIs. He also drove in two in Cal's loss to Stanford on Tuesday.

"X Nady (Xavier Nady) was pretty locked in for some time, and I've had a couple teammates that were in that zone," said head coach David Esquer, "but that's just special. You don't see that too often."

Vaughn hit the drive off of USC closer Bryce Dyrda, the same arm that surrendered his last walk-off blast. Dyrda came into the weekend with a 1.09 ERA, and left Berkeley with a 3.58 mark, almost entirely thanks to Vaughn. "First pitch, I kind of figured I'd get an off-speed pitch, it was a ball, and, got to be honest, I was looking dead red," Vaughn said. "I got it."

"You've got to be the guy to want that ball, to want to get that hit, and be there to pick each other up; you've got to be greedy for it," Vaughn said. "We want to be a playoff team, so we're going to fight our butts off to get there."

Both times that Vaughn has taken Dyrda deep, it was right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell who worked a walk ahead of the Cal slugger. On Sunday, it was one of four free passes that Mitchell earned.

"He did it Friday night, too, and had three or four walks on Friday, and I'll be honest with you, he's not feeling it right now," Esquer said. "I can tell he's not feeling it, and on Friday night, he drew a walk that got Vaughn to the plate, and today, he drew a walk to get Vaughn to the plate today, when he's not swinging right. If he doesn't get on, they may just walk Vaughn."

Dodson had his fair share of success over the weekend, going 3-for-4 on Saturday and driving in the first run of the day for the Bears on Sunday with an RBI single in the first, but with the Bears up 6-2, Dodson came unwound on the mound. After a stellar 7.1 innings from starter Matt Ladrech and two big outs recorded by closer Erik Martinez in his third outing in as many days, the Bears looked to have a series sweep sewn up.

Dodson came on to pitch the ninth, and got two quick outs on eight pitches, but then allowed five straight singles with two outs, and then walked third baseman Adalberto Carrillo to plate another run, closing the gap to 6-5.

After Dodson allowed the fourth single -- a roller through the right side to Rios -- Esquer himself, not pitching coach Thomas Eager, came out to chat with the sophomore righty.

"I asked him, 'Do you want to be out here? Do you want to be out here right now? I have no qualms leaving you in. I don't want to see any hesitation -- no 'do what you want' or 'if you think so''" and if he'd given me that, I would have gotten him," Esquer said. "He nodded his head. He wanted to be there."

Dodson then allowed an RBI single up the middle to Brandon Perez, walked in a run with a five-pitch pass to Carrillo, and then uncorked a wild pitch to pinch hitter Brady Shocky  to bring in the tying run.

"This weekend," Vaughn said, "was all about picking each other up. The last two nights, we had game-tying home runs in the eighth inning, and you end up winning."

Reliever Zayne Patino -- who relieved a floundering Vaughn on Saturday by striking out the side in the top of the sixth -- came on and hit the first batter he faced, before getting pinch hitter Stephen Dubb to fly out to center, leaving the bases loaded.

Cal went in order in the bottom of the frame, and righty Andrew Buckley earned the win with a 1-2-3 10th, setting the stage for Vaughn's Pac-12-leading 11th home run of the season, and third of the series. 

"It was an awful ninth, but an awesome 10th," Esquer said. "If you break it down, they hit five ground balls that we weren't positioned in front of. We had them down to their last strike. I really don't have any regrets, other than when Thomas is asking me if we did the right thing. What Tanner Dodson is going to be in the future, as a pitcher, I told him one of my favorite quotes: If you're going through Hell, keep going. You come out the other side. right now, It's not great for him, but it will be."

Blow by Blow

After a pair of slugfests totaling 39 runs and 38 hits over the previous two nights, the Bears and Trojans got into an old-fashioned bit of trench warfare on Sunday. Tied at 1-1 into the bottom of the sixth, with neither offense finding much of any footing.

The Bears had a chance to break things open in the bottom of the fifth, when Dodson stepped up with two on and two outs, after a walk to Vaughn and a single by Denis Karas. Dodson sent the first pitch he saw off the front of the mound, and bouncing towards the second base bag. Shortstop Frankie Rios couldn't field the ball cleanly, as it changed direction, and it kicked into shallow right. He gathered the ball at the fringe of the grass, and threw home. Vaughn leaped over catcher Kaleb Murphy to avoid the tag, but could not land on the plate, so he had to go back and touch it. Murphy alertly wheeled around and tagged Vaughn before he could reach back and touch home. "I've done that before, but I got tagged out last time, too -- I was hosed; I'm not the fastest guy, I'll admit," Vaughn said. "My best chance is to go up. You try not to hurt the catcher, but I actually got over him, I was told by the umpire, but he got me on the back tag. A little goofy."

In the fifth inning, powerfully-built freshman Max Flower entered the game after starting left fielder -- and erstwhile catcher/designated hitter -- Matt Ruff, mis-played a fly-ball triple in the second, leading to USC's first game-tying run. He didn't waste much time making an impact on the game, slugging his first career home run to kick off a wild sixth. Flower drove the second pitch he saw leading off the sixth over the Evergood Sausages sign in left center for his first career home run, breaking the tie.

A walk to Davis and a sacrifice bunt by Ripken Reyes put a man in scoring position for Eden, who hit the game-tying home run last night in the eighth inning. Instead of swinging for the fences, like his fellow freshman Flower, Eden laid down a bunt up the third base line, riding the ridge of the grass. Adalberto Carrillo -- who hit two circuit shots in the 9-8 Saturday affair -- charged and fired to first, but his throw pulled Dillon Paulson off the bag, putting men at first and third with one out for the top of the lineup.

With Eden running, Greene sent the seventh pitch he saw -- starter Marrick Crouse's 102nd of the day -- off of the freshman righty's foot and into shallow left, to the place vacated by Rios as he broke for second. The single brought Davis home, and gave the Bears a 3-1 lead, and spelling the end for Crouse.

A wild pitch by reliever Solomon Bates brought home another, and a line-drive single to right by Vaughn brought home still another run, making it 5-1, Bears. Bates then walked Dodson to load the bases for Flower, but was able to get the 6-foot-4, 220-pound freshman swinging at a fastball at the eyes to end the frame. scattered eight hits through 7.1 innings of work, but a fly ball single in the top of the eighth -- which fell in front of a retreating Mitchell -- spelled the end for him. Closer Erik Martinez -- having thrown 2.1 innings and 44 pitches over the previous two nights -- entered, and allowed a single to second baseman Brandon Perez, loading the bases. A roller to short by Carrillo erased one runner, but Reyes bobbled the turn, allowing right fielder Corey Dempster to score. Martinez then got designated hitter Cris Perez to foul out to Vaughn at first, ending the threat.

Cal added another run in the bottom of the frame, when Mitchell drew his third walk of the day, swiped his second base of the day, and then rode home on an RBI single to right off the bat of Karas. 

The Bears (19-18, 11-7 in Pac-12) had 30 runs on 39 hits against the Trojans (18-20, 5-10). Vaughn, Greene and Dodson each had 6 hits apiece on the series. Cal has now won 10 Pac-12 home games in a row, and will head up to face Washington this weekend in Seattle.

"All around, a great team weekend," Vaughn said. "Getting the sweep is awesome, gives us some momentum going into next weekend."

Cal heads to the City to take on San Francisco on Tuesday, at the renovated Benedetti Diamond. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m., with Rogelio Reyes likely to take the mound, and Aaron Shortridge possibly returning from injury to get at least one inning. Top Stories