Courtesy / Cal Athletics

Cal baseball ends the season with a series-clinching win over No. 14 Arizona behind Korey Lee and Ripken Reyes

Ripken Reyes chatters the Bears right into a series win on Sunday against the No. 14 Arizona Wildcats.

LIVE THREAD: Cal vs. Arizona Finale (members)

Through thick and thin, god times and lean -- and there has been plenty of lean this season -- California sophomore infielder Ripken Reyes chatters on. In a game -- and at a level -- where chatter -- the sing-song "Hey batter batter" that is just as much a part of baseball as hard slides and the smack of cowhide -- just isn't cool anymore, Reyes chirps on.

His favorite tune: The names of his catchers. Whether it's fellow Tyrus Greene (pronounced as one almost monosyllabic bark: "ComeonTyGreene!") or freshman Korey Lee (again, one word: "LetsGoKoreyLee!"), Reyes literally sings the praises of his backstops, cool factor be damned.

"I'm getting crap every single game, and a lot of my teammates say, 'Man, I'd hate you if you weren't on my team,' because I'm talking so much," Reyes said.

"He's one of the most vocal on this team, and he fires everybody up, and he's fired me up, whenever I get an opportunity," said Lee. So, on Sunday, when the Bears needed a win to close out a series win over No. 14 Arizona to improbably finish 15-15 in Pac-12 play during a season where it was hard not to project them winning 15 games total, Reyes warbled on. Cal fell behind 4-0 in the early goings, throwing three pitchers over the first 4.0 innings. Sophomore righty Aaron Shortridge steadied the ship with 4.0 scoreless innings of relief, though, as Cal clawed back, scoring 2 runs in the fifth to cut the lead in half, and then, behind a two-run go-ahead double from Reyes in the top of the seventh, pulled ahead 5-4.

In the ninth, with the Bears' lead still just one run against the Pac-12's top offense, Reyes climbed to the top step of the dugout. Reyes yipped and yapped as Lee, a one-time Arizona commit before the Wildcats hired Jay Johnson as their new head coach, was starting the final game of the three-game set behind the dish, and came up with a 2-1 double just inside the first base bag to bring home another pair, sealing a 7-4 win over Arizona (37-19, 16-14 in Pac-12), and ending the season on a high note.

"I was telling the guys, the whole time during his at-bat, that this was his moment," Reyes said. "The whole situation with Arizona, whatever it is, he was awesome. I knew his moment would happen. He hits a rocket down the line, and scores some more insurance runs for us, that was huge."

The 6-9 hitters in the Bears lineup -- including Reyes and Lee -- went a combined 7-for-14, accounting for all but 3 of Cal's hits. Reyes's 2-for-4 day got him over the Mendoza line, and he finished with a .203 batting average for the season.

Blow by Blow

Freshman starter Jack Wolger, making his first start on the mound this season, lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs, waling one on 34 pitches. After allowing an RBI single by Alfonso Rivas in the first, Wolger allowed back-to-back two-out singles in the second, before walking the bases loaded with a six-pitch free pass to Cal Stevenson. Freshman reliever Jack Cosca walked in Arizona's second run with a four-pitch pass to Jared Oliva, before catching Pac-12 batting leader J.J. Matijevic looking at a curve on the inside corner to end the inning.

As Cal (25-29, 15-15) saw two runners cut down on the base paths, the Wildcats tacked on another pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth against Saturday starter Matt Ladrech, who only threw 19 pitches before being yanked the night before.

Ladrech allowed a 2-2 double down the line to Kyle Lewis, and then hit catcher Cesar Salazar, before allowing a line drive to shallow right by shortstop Louis Boyd. Stevenson popped a sacrifice fly to right, and Oliva sent one to left to give the Wildcats a 4-0 lead. Bears struck right back in the top of the fifth, starting a two-out rally with a flare single to center by designated hitter Matt Ruff. With shortstop Cameron Eden (2-for-3, 3 runs scored) at the plate, Ruff advanced to second on a slider by starter Cody Deason that got away from Salazar. Eden then dropped a soft liner to left, as third base coach Brad Sanfilippo waved Ruff around to force a throw at home, which came in off-line, giving Cal its first run of the day.

Deason had only allowed more than 2 earned runs in a start twice this season -- against Eastern Kentucky in the opener, and against No. 10 Stanford on April 29 -- then served up a 1-0 letter-high fastball to Reyes, who yanked it into right to plate Eden, cutting the Arizona lead in half.

Cal staged another two-out rally in the seventh, when reliever Landon Faulkner gave up an 0-2 double into the right field corner by center fielder Tanner Dodson. Ruff came through again with a drive over the head of center fielder Oliva to cut the lead to 1, bringing Dodson home on a double. Left-handed reliever Rio Gomez then allowed a high chopper over the mound by Eden for an infield single, putting men at first and third for the switch-hitting Reyes.

"I was struggling at the plate, against right-handers, just wasn't really feeling it, but coach Flip [Sanfilipo] worked with me at the start real quick, and I knew a lefty would come around at some point, and I got a fastball in, and I just hammered it down the line," Reyes said. Both Eden and Ruff scored, giving the Bears the lead for good.

As Cal came back, Shortridge was scintillating, using his change up to great effect.

"His change up was just as good as it could be today," said Lee. "He's been working a lot with coach [Thomas] Eager, and just working on the change up, because that's his out pitch. He was locating the fastball. I don't know if we called that many sliders, but the change up and the fastball, he was locating both of those pitches down, got them to swing at bad pitches and got them out."

In Shortridge's 4.0 innings of work, he allowed just 2 base runners, striking out 2 and throwing 53 pitches -- including 32 for strikes. He threw a first-pitch strike to every batter he faced.

Dodson led off the top of the ninth with a walk, and with one out, Eden was given an intentional free pass, putting men on first and second for the red-hot Reyes. Cal's second baseman, though, didn't have quite enough in the tank and popped out to left. Behind him, though, was Lee. After fouling away two straight pitches to fall behind 2-2, Lee poked reliever Tyler Megill's offering just inside the first base line for a two-run double. 

"When the coach pulled me to the side, he said I was going to get a fastball, and I got a fastball to hit early in the count, but I didn't hit it," Lee said. "He kept on going with the slider, went slider-fastball, and with the team on my back, it was super easy to have that and do what I did. It was a fastball down and away. The atmosphere was crazy. The whole team was all fired up. It was a really, really big team win for us today, and everyone had each other's backs."

"That was huge for us," Reyes said. "A lot of people doubted us, and we're thankful that we have such a positive coach in Eskie [David Esquer], who brings energy every day. It all starts with our teammates. A lot of people were counting us out, and we had to bring it, every single day, and prove people wrong. This is huge going into next year."

The Bears finished the season with 12 straight games against top-15 teams, and after getting swept by No. 1 Oregon State (and putting a scare into the Beavers with an 11-10 affair), Cal was able to take single games from the Cardinal and TCU, before finally taking the series from Arizona.

"We're one win ahead of last year's team, so that gives you some perspective of what we're going to do next year," Reyes said, referring to last year's team that had 7 Major League Draft picks on board. Top Stories