Sue Tenerowicz

RECAP: Cal baseball gives up an early 3-0 lead as Stanford wins a back-and-forth affair to clinch the series

BERKELEY -- Stanford comes back to clinch the series from Cal as Bears errors in the fourth spell the end for Matt Ladrech.

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BERKELEY -- It was a strange day for California freshman catcher Korey Lee. He went 1-for-3 with a double and a run at the plate, and threw out three runners trying to steal, but an errant back pick and a crucial double-clutch wound up being his biggest marks on the game, as the Bears dropped their fourth straight game against rival No. 10 Stanford, and second this weekend. The Cardinal came out on top 8-5 to clinch the series.

Cal took an early 3-0 lead behind left-handed junior starter Matt Ladrech, who cruised through his first 3.0 innings of work, but thanks to two Bears errors in the top of the fourth -- including a snap throw to first by Lee that sailed into right, and a would-be double play ball that went through second baseman Preston GrandPre's legs -- the Cardinal got all of those runs back. A pair of wild pitches in the bottom of the fourth gave the lead back to Cal, but then the Cardinal scored twice off of an RBI double by Jesse Kuet and a wild pitch from reliever Joey Matulovich, tying the game at 5 in the top of the fifth. A pair of two-out knocks by sophomore right fielder Brandon Wulff and freshman catcher Maverick Handley put Stanford on top in the sixth.

Stanford starter Andrew Summerville got battered around early, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits in the first 4.0 innings, but then shut the Bears down over the final five. The junior lefty retired 12 straight from the fifth through the ninth, before being pulled following a two-out double by pinch hitter Matt Ruff.

Will Matthiessen came on to strike out GrandPre -- who went 2-for-5 with 3 RBIs -- to end the game for his first save of the season. Summerville moved to 4-1 on the season.

"Just incomplete," said head coach David Esquer. "We didn't do enough ... Just not there yet. I keep saying it, and it's unfortunate. I wish we'd show signs that we were able to win games like this, but we just have not been able to do it."

The Bears got the scoring going in the bottom of the first, with an RBI double by freshman first baseman Andrew Vaughn just inside the third base bag, cashing in a one-out single by right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell.

GrandPre, who, in the first, sent a drive to the wall in right center, only to see it knocked down by the wind, came up big with the glove in the top of the second. After a looping leadoff single to center by designated hitter Daniel Bakst, GrandPre fielded a hard grounder to his left by Duke Kinamon, and threw back against his body to second to get the lead runner. Cal didn't turn the double play, but it did change the complexion of the inning.

With powerful Brandon Wulff at the plate, Kinamon -- 12-for-13 on stolen bases for the year -- tried to advance on a curve in the dirt. Freshman catcher Lee took the ball right off the center of his chest protector, killing it right in front of him. He quickly picked the ball up and threw to second to cut down Kinamon, and end the inning.

In the bottom of the second, Cal got a leadoff single from designated hitter Tyrus Greene on a line shot up the middle. Freshman shortstop Cameron Eden then squared to bunt, but pulled back for a slash, and instead of hitting a liner through the infield, fisted a nubber between the mound and first. Unprepared, Stanford starter Andrew Summerville over-ran the roller, allowing Eden to reach on a duck snort infield single.

A sacrifice bunt from Lee moved both men into scoring position, and GrandPre -- who came into the game batting .500 with runners in scoring position -- obliged with a two-out hot shot back through the box for a two-run single, giving the Bears a 3-0 lead.

Ladrech allowed just one hit through the first three innings, and used his off-speed and big looping curve to slow down bats and generate weak contact, but the fourth inning was a different story -- those weakly-hit balls found grass. First was a dying quail to leadoff man Matt WInaker, then a one-out single by Quinn Brodey.

With an 0-1 count on Bakst, Lee took a fastball low and away and snapped a throw wide to Vaughn at first, and the ball skipped into right, allowing Winaker to score, and moving Brodey to third. Four pitches later, Bakst drove a double over GrandPre and into the left center field gap to bring another run home. A single to left by Kinamon put men at the corners, and Jack Klein sent a roller up the middle for what looked to be an inning-ending double play, but instead, it went through GrandPre's legs behind the bag, plating the tying run.

"Ill advised," Esquer said of Lee's back pick. "Up 3-0, and you create an inning for them. I don't know if the play was even really there, to be honest with you. He was going to be safe. We didn't have him out there ... Ladrech was rolling through them pretty good, and they hadn't really done anything. The two guys on base, he broke Winaker down and the ball dropped in left, and then the runner at second, I think we had an out there. I don't think [Lee] been throwing particularly well the whole weekend. He's been burying some balls in the dirt. I don't know if that's the time to test your back pick.

"hat one bit us. It created an inning, and now they're a contact away, and they get a base hit and they score one, and now they make contact on an out, and they're down by one. I think in that inning, that time around the lineup, I think eight out of nine guys hit the ball hard off of Ladrech. I think he had four guys in a row get two-strike hits. That made it tough."

That double play came on the very next batter, as Eden made a self-preservation grab at short to start the 6-4-3 twin-killing.

Lee made up for his blunder in the bottom of the next frame, dunking a leadoff double down the right field line. Max Flower then sent a chopper between short and third. Shortstop Nico Hoerner -- the hero on Saturday for the Cardinal -- made a sprawling stop and threw to third from his back, but Lee was off on contact and slid in safely, while Flower reached at first. A ball in the dirt with GrandPre at the plate moved Flower to second, but since the ball kicked to the left side, up the third base line, Lee wisely held. He didn't have to wait long. Three pitches later, GrandPre swung and missed on a slider down, and the ball got away from Lee's counterpart Maverick Handley, allowing Lee to sprint home with the go-ahead run.

GrandPre then served up a suicide squeeze, bunting a pitch at his eyes to the left side of the mound, bringing Flower in to score to make it 5-3, Bears.

"That put us up 5-3, just trying to think outside the box," Esquer said. "We need to score some runs. We thought that'd give us a little momentum, and we gave it right back to them."

Ladrech couldn't get out of the fifth, allowing a leadoff liner up the middle from Handley, and an RBI double up the third base line from Kuet before being pulled for former No. 2 starter Joey Matulovich, who had given up 15 earned runs in his last 15.0 innings of work. Matulovich got a groundout, moving Kuet to third, and then delivered a wild pitch to Hoerner, allowing Kuet to score. He then got what looked to be an inning-ending groundout by Brodey, but threw wildly to first, pulling Vaguhn off the bag, but Lee saved his bacon, hosing Brodey at second to end the frame. "The game's 5-5, and we got first-and-third with one out and hit into a double play, and then they get two stolen bases and two base hits right behind them to go up 7-5," Esquer said.

Lee's day swung back around again, though, as a double clutch on his part allowed the speedy Kinamon to take second with one out in the sixth. A single past a diving GrandPre up the middle by Wulff brought him around to score, once again giving Stanford the lead, 6-5. Wulff too, stole second and scored, driven home by a double down the right field line by Handley. A drive to center by Kuet looked destined to fall, but center fielder Dodson made a diving stab to end the inning.

"Come April and May, if you don't have good secondary stuff, everyone can hit an average breaking ball by April and May," Esquer said of Matulovich, who took the loss to drop to 4-2 on the season, going 2.0 innings and allowing 2 hits and 2 runs with a walk and a wild pitch. "Sometimes you can get away with that early on in the year, and his secondary pitches, or lack thereof, are really being magnified as we get into the hotter weather."

While Cal had given up several free bases thanks to fielding miscues, pitching command hadn't been the issue it was on Satruday night, at least until the eighth. Team appearances leader Andrew Buckley hit the first man he faced, and after a bunt, a passed ball and a wild pitch, allowed a run to score without a hit, putting the Bears in a three-run hole, but struck out Wulff looking, as Lee hosed pinch runner Alec Wilson at second to halt the charge.

On Deck

Cal and Stanford finish the series on Monday at 6 p.m., with Dodson (1-5, 5.82 ERA) toeing the rubber against lefty Chris Castellanos (7-2, 3.42) on the Pac-12 Networks. With a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series against No. 6 TCU, Matulovich will be saved for the opener, while Jared Horn will go on Friday.

"We'll let him get through three or four or so," Esquer said of Dodson. "We thought to use Joey on a limited basis this weekend, with the quick turnaround on Thursday, and have him start on Thursday, so Horn could at least have a full week, or close to a full week, to go on Friday. Probably Dodson [on Monday] and then a mix-and-match, but not Joey, though, since he's probably going to pitch on Thursday."

Ladrech will pitch the home finale on Saturday. Top Stories