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Denis Karas drives in 6 with 2 home runs, but Cal can't finish off No. 1 Oregon State, falling 11-10

Oregon State has not allowed more than 7 runs to any team all season, but on Saturday, California slugged three home runs and scored 10, but fell one short against the No. 1 Beavers.

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Sometimes you're the hero, and sometimes, the goat. On Saturday, California junior third baseman Denis Karas was both in an 11-10 Cal loss to No. Oregon State.

With two home runs under his belt -- a two-run home run in the fourth to match a two-spot the Beavers posted in the third, and a game-tying seventh-inning grand slam just inside the right field foul pole -- Karas was having the best offensive day of his season, as were his Bears. Cal out-hit Oregon State 13-8, and launched 4 home runs, with Karas going 3-for-5 with 6 RBIs as one of five Bears to tally multi-hit games.

While the Beavers had allowed three teams to score 7 runs against them this season, no team had scored 8, and Karas's bases-clearing blast off of arguably one of the best pitching prospects in the nation, Drew Rasmussen, did just that, tying the game at 8-8.

Oregon State, though, scored 3 more, and the Bears answered with 2, bringing Karas to the plate in the top of the ninth to start a much-needed rally.

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1776395-heimlich-beavers-c... Karas led off the top of the ninth with Cal (21-23, 12-11 in Pac-12) down by one, and singled to deep short to put a man on for Tanner Dodson, whose solo home run in the fourth tied the game at 4-4.

Dodson, though, popped out to the mound while trying to get a bunt down.

Sophomore Lorenzo Hampton then popped out to short. With 2 outs, Karas broke for second on a first-pitch breaking ball in the dirt to Cameron Eden, and was thrown out by catcher Adley Rutschman to end Cal's upset bid.

"It comes down to two things you have to do 100 out of 100 times -- turn a double play and get a bunt down," said head coach David Esquer, referring to Dodson not getting the bunt down, and a botched double play throw by second baseman Preston GrandPre that led to a decisive three-run seventh. "We were going to give it one shot, and maybe, if they got behind, a little bit further, be a little more offensive, but it was getting a look and seeing how the at-bat was going to unfold, and unfortunately, he popped it up."

Karas, Esquer said, had a standing order to try to advance on a ball in the dirt.

"We were hoping it'd kick a little bit further, but we were looking for a ball in the dirt, and a chance to move up to second base to get a hit away," Esquer said. "We were trying to be a little over-aggressive, knowing that if he gets to second base, we're a hit away. Ill-advised, probably, but an aggressive mistake. Among all the mistakes that we have made, at least that one was on the over-aggressive side."

In a back-and-forth affair at a sold-out Goss Stadium, the Beavers (37-4, 20-3 in Pac-12) did what they have done all season -- capitalized on mistakes. The first: A hanging change up on the inner half of the plate in the bottom of the first to K.J. Harrison. Harrison slugged his fifth home run of the year to left to give Oregon State a 2-0 lead, cashing in a leadoff single from Nick Madrigal.

Cal got one run back in the top of the third with Eden's fourth homer of the season -- a 2-0 shot off of starter Bryce Fehmel -- but the Beavers answered right back. In the bottom of the third, shortstop Cadyn Grenier reached when he sent a bleeder through the left side, slowed down by Karas's glove, and not hard enough to reach Eden on the outfield grass. Madrigal -- who went 4-for-5 on the day -- drove an 0-1 offering from Bears starter Joey Matulovich into the right center field gap. Grenier came charging home, and had to leap to his right, around the tag of catcher Korey Lee, who touched him with his free hand, but not his mitt. Madrigal advanced to third on the throw, and then rode home on a bunt from Harrison.

The Bears scored 3 in the fourth, and the Beavers added 4 in the bottom of the sixth thanks to the first career home run of Stephen Kwan -- a grand slam on a slider inside from reliever Erik Martinez. The Bears had called on Martinez -- with his 1.33 ERA and 6 saves on the season -- to quell a nascent Oregon State rally against right-handed side-arm reliever Andrew Buckley. Buckley walked the first man he faced on four pitches, though that runner was erased on a bunt by Christian Donahue. Lee sprung out of the crouch and immediately fired to Eden at the second base bag on a bang-bang play. With one out, and the game tied at 4-4, head coach David Esquer called on Martinez for the high-leverage situation, but again, Oregon State cashed in on Cal's mistakes.

Martinez looked to get an inning-ending double play on a 1-4-3 bouncer, but his throw to second was a hair late, and the Bears were only able to get the trail runner -- Rutschman -- at first. After a walk to Grenier, Martinez served up another grounder, this one to the hole at short. Eden fielded it, but couldn't find the handle. He saved a run, but couldn't record an out, loading the bases for Kwan, who sent a 2-2 slider over the right field fence.

"At one point, when Madrigal was up, right prior to Kwan, to be honest with you, we were thinking, 'We've got our best guy versus their best guy,'" Esquer said. "We're going to take that every time."

Karas's grand slam on a fastball down and away from Rasmussen made the Beavers pay for an unintentional intentional walk to Pac-12 home run leader Andrew Vaughn, and was Karas's first home run to right field this season.

"He had been struggling," Esquer said. "I had a talk with him prior to the game, and said, 'Hey, listen, an important part of development is coming out the other side of a tough time,' and [he had] two big swings today. One of the home runs was on a hit-and-run, which tells you a little bit about where his swing was -- he's trying to hit the ball on the ground and he hits a home run. I hope [the home run off of Rasmussen] relaxes him down. He hit a fastball over the right field fence. For him to be able to relax and understand that he doesn't need to muscle up and really get out of his timing, I'm hoping that relaxes him down into just letting the pitch get to him, without thinking that all his homers have to come on the pull side."

http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1775704-cal-vs-oregon-stat...After that shot, though, Oregon State capitalized yet again on a Cal miscue. After freshman lefty Arman Sabouri hit right fielder Jack Anderson in the calf in the bottom of the seventh, JuCo transfer southpaw Zayne Patino came on and, after striking out Trevor Larnach, walked third baseman Michael Gretler, and then Dodson, called on to pitch, walked pinch hitter Andy Atwood to load the bases.

Dodson got a first-pitch grounder to short off the bat of Rutschman, which looked to be an inning-ending double play, but the throw from second baseman Preston GrandPre on the turn pulled a stretching Vaughn up the line at first, and off the bag, scoring a run.

Back-to-back singles by Grenier and Madrigal plated 2 more.

"100 out of 100 -- that's a 100-out-of-100 play," Esquer said. "You've got to make that play and that throw. A two-hopper to shortstop with the runner at first, you've got to turn that over 100 times in 100 chances, and unfortunately, we weren't able to do that. Huge momentum turner, and a game changer."

Cal would add two runs in the eighth on a two-run single through the left side by right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell, who finished 2-for-5, and is now 5-for-9 on the series, which will conclude with a Sunday, 12:05 p.m. start, with junior lefty Matt Ladrech (2-1, 2.83 ERA)  taking the mound for the Bears.

Sabouri took the loss for the Bears, dropping to 1-3. Matulovich lasted just 3.1 innings, giving up 4 runs -- 2 earned -- on 4 hits, walking 2 and striking out 2, while throwing 60 pitches.

Vaughn went 0-for-4 on the day, and is now 1-for-8 on the series, with 7 men left on base.


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