A clean, well-played game was had by California and No. 14 Arizona, at least up until the sixth inning. A freshman mistake by starter Jared Horn cost a game-tying double in the third, but it was a pair of errors and a passed ball by those in back of him in the sixth that spelled the end for the Bears on Friday in a 10-3 comeback win for the Wildcats, who scored 8 unanswered run after falling behind 3-2.
Arizona (37-17, 16-12 in Pac-12) has now won 7 straight, while the Bears (23-29, 13-15) have lost 9 of their last 11.
Second baseman Preston GrandPre -- one of only two juniors in Cal's starting lineup -- had had a rough night already, nearly bobbling a pop-up away and dropping a double play turn at he bag. With Cal up 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth, after striking out to end the top of the frame, GrandPre ranged to his right to try and field a bouncer by Cesar Salazar, but couldn't make a clean exchange. After freshman starter Jared Horn got left fielder Ryan Haug to go down swinging on the power curve, he allowed an inside-out single to right to Nick Quintana.
Horn -- who'd gotten out of two jams already -- was lifted for center fielder Tanner Dodson, who, with men at first and third, got what looked like a double play ball up the middle by second baseman Kyle Lewis, but GrandPre rushed himself fielding the ball behind the bag, and booted the ball over to shortstop, allowing the tying run to score.
After a botched hit-and-run gifted Cal an out at third thanks to catcher Tyrus Greene's arm, Louis Boyd sent a tapper to the right side. GrandPre ranged to his left to field the ball and flip to Dodson covering, but Dodson's uneven footwork was nowhere close to touching the bag, putting men at the corners.
A 1-1 fastball up to right fielder Cal Stevenson deflected off of Greene's mitt for a passed ball, allowing a run to score. After walking Stevenson, Dodson uncorked a wild pitch to Alfonso Rivas, allowing both runners to advance. A bouncer to shortstop off of Cameron Eden, trying to backhand the shot, plated another run, giving the Wildcats the winning margin and spoiling the final start of the season for the freshman righty Horn, who allowed 5 hits and 3 runs -- 2 earned -- in his 5.1 innings of work, with 3 strikeouts and 3 walks.
Dodson -- who'd allowed just 3 earned runs over his last 11.2 innings of work -- gave up 3 hits and 2 runs (neither earned), with one walk and one wild pitch in his 0.2 innings, taking the loss.
After the fateful sixth, Arizona loaded the bases with 1 out against Aaron Shortridge and Andrew Buckley in the bottom of the seventh, and broke the game wide open against Jack Cosca. A 2-2 bleeder through the left side on a breaking ball away by Lewis scored two, and a single past a diving Denis Karas at third plated late-inning defensive replacement Sawyer Gieseke. After a walk to Stevenson loaded the bases once again. Rivas sent an 0-1 curve to Vaughn for an unassisted put-out, scoring Lewis. As Vaughn and Eden failed at executing a halting run-down, Eden didn't make the runner commit one way or the other, finally throwing back to Vaughn, who bounced a throw to the plate, allowing Boyd to score to make it 10-3, Arizona.
Cal's bullpen allowed 7 runs (5 earned) in 3.2 innings of work. After the Bears pounded out 8 hits over the first 5.0 innings, they had just 3 the rest of the way. After holding the Pac-12's leading offense to just 4 hits in the first 5.0 innings, Cal allowed 8 hits over the final 3.0 innings, allowing 3 walks, hitting 1 batter and committing an error, with a passed ball and a wild pitch.
Wildcats reliever Michael Flynn threw 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing just two base runners, including one hit -- a one-out double to Lorenzo Hampton in the ninth.
Blow by Blow
Despite allowing 5 hits through the first 2.0 innings, Arizona junior lefty J.C. Cloney -- one of three weekend Wildcats starters with an ERA under 3.00 -- had only allowed one run, not succumbing to an aggressive, death-by-papercuts Cal attack.
In the top of the first, Jeffrey Mitchell lined a 1-2 single to the right center field gap, but took a hard turn at first and turned that single into a double, as right fielder Jared Oliva bobbled the ball on the exchange.
Pac-12 home run leader Andrew Vaughn pounded the first pitch he saw off the plate and high into the air to the right side, against the shift, and came up with an infield single. With two outs, another bleeder, this one from Dodson. Dodson took a cutter in on the hands and squeaked it to the right side. A sliding stop by second baseman Lewis stopped the ball from getting to the outfield, but Mitchell came around to score, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Two sparkling defensive plays in the bottom of the first by Karas and left fielder Jonah Davis preceded Cal starter Jared Horn's strikeout looking of the Pac-12's leading hitter J.J. Matijevic with a curveball on the inside corner.
The Bears again were able to back Cloney into a corner in the second, but couldn't finish it off. Davis led off with a bouncing single up the middle and then designated hitter Matt Ruff lined a single over Lewis. Davis, charging hard around second, thinking first-to-third the whole way, had to body-check the Canadian-born shortstop Boyd, who was shading towards the bag for the cutoff. Davis was awarded third based on Boyd's obstruction, but would be cut down on an unsuccessful suicide squeeze.
The Wildcats had their shot at Horn, but likewise, couldn't put him away, in the bottom of the second, putting a pair of men on with back-to-back singles to lead off the frame. A would-be double play ball chopped by left fielder Ryan Haug to third was dropped by GrandPre, but he was able to pick the ball up in time to just beat catcher Cesar Salazar. A seven-pitch battle with third baseman Jose Quintana, though, did end in that needed twin killing, getting Horn out of the inning.
Cal tacked on another run in the third, when Vaughn shot a leadoff double just inside the right field line, and came home after a sacrifice bunt and then an RBI groundout by Dodson.
Matijevic avenged his strikeout in the first by capitalizing on freshman mistakes by both Horn and Vaughn in the third. After Horn walked Rivas, he tried a pick move to first, but Vaughn wasn't on the bag, and by rule, a pickoff move can't be thrown to a player not on the bag. Both Rivas and Stevenson -- who flipped a front-foot single the other way to left with two outs -- came around to score on Matijevic's Pac-12-leading 28th double of the season, tying things up at 2-2.
Arizona nearly broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth against a tiring Horn, but the freshman righty held firm. He had allowed 4 players get down 2 strikes, and still reach, Horn surrendered a two-out walk to Rivas, and after Rivas stole second on an 0-1 curve in the dirt, Horn, not looking to repeat an earlier mistake, decided to walk the dangerous Matijevic intentionally.
The next man up -- Oliva -- was no picnic, either, coming in hitting .327, but Horn was able to freeze him with a fastball on the outside corner for a called strike three.
A two-out, 1-2 RBI single up the middle by Ruff in the top of the sixth put the Bears up 3-2, and chased Cloney after 83 pitches.
Cal and Arizona will head back to the park at 7 p.m. on Saturday, with junior lefty Matt Ladrech (2-2, 4.01 ERA) facing junior lefty Cameron Ming (7-1, 2.09). Vaughn will be looking to extend his on-base streak to 28 games after going 2-for-4 on Friday.