California 4, UW 3 (11)

Mike Van Winden singled with two outs to score James Holder with the go-ahead run as the California Bears avoided a sweep with a 4-3 victory over the Huskies in 11 innings in the finale of the three game Pac-10 series at a sunny Husky Ballpark on Sunday afternoon. With the win the Bears improved to 24-16 overall and 6-6 in the Pac-10, while the Huskies dropped to 23-14 and 4-5.

The two teams played their second straight one run game, and the Bears came out on top after the Huskies won 5-4 on Saturday.

In the top of the second, the Bears took a 1-0 lead against starter Matt Kasser. Brennan Boesch got hit by a pitch to lead off, advanced to third on a bad hop single off the glove of second baseman Mike Rundle by Josh Satin, and scored on a double play grounder by Holder.

The Bears loaded the bases in the fourth on walks to Chris Errecart and Satin and a single by Holder. Jeremy Burchett then lofted a sacrifice fly to center to plate Errecart and make it 2-0. They still had runners at first and second with two outs by catcher Joey Dunn fired a perfect strike to shortstop Brent Lillibridge to catch Satin trying to steal second.

Washington got on the board and cut the Bear lead to 2-1 with a run in the bottom of the fourth. Lillibridge lined a double over the head of Errecart in left field, took third on a groundout to second by Cory Rickard and scored on another groundout by Zach Clem.

California, however, regained a two run lead at 3-1 with a tally in the top of the fifth. After Brett Munster grounded out to Kyle Larsen at first base, Travis Howell walked, moved to third on a hit and run single by Van Winden to right and scored on a ground single to left by Matt Einspahr.

The Bears had a chance to break the game open as Kasser walked Errecart to load the bases, forcing Husky coach Ken Knutson to go to the bullpen. He brought in right hander Keaton Everitt to face Boesch, who entered the game leading the Bears with a .393 average, seven home runs and 28 runs batted in. Boesch looked at a ball from Everitt but then grounded into an inning ending double play.

After Kasser yielded three runs on five hits and five walks in four and a thirds innings, Everitt kept the Huskies in the game with three innings of shutout relief, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two, despite getting into trouble in the eighth. After Lillibridge made a terrific sliding catch against the fence on a foul ball by Errecart, singles by Boesch and Satin and a walk to Holder loaded the bases. Once again, the Bears had a chance to break the game open, prompting Knutson to go to the bullpen and bring in closer Josh Conover. Conover did his job, getting Burchett to ground into a force play at home plate and then striking out pinch hitter Allen Craig to end the inning.

Meanwhile, California starter Eric Dworkis shut down the Husky offense. If those in attendance thought the Huskies would get confidence and momentum from escaping the bases loaded jam in the top of the fifth, he had other ideas. He came back in the bottom of the inning and allowed only a two out single to Curt Rindal.

In the sixth he walked Rickard with two outs but then set down the next six batters, before Rundle lined a single to right with two outs in the eighth. At that point, although Dworkis had allowed only one run on five hits and a walk in seven and two thirds innings while striking out five, Bear head coach David Esquer decided to bring in left handed stopper Travis Talbott to face the right handed hitting Lillibridge. Lillibridge reached on an infield chop single behind the mound, and then Taylor Johnson, pinch hitting for Rickard, reached on an infield single into the hole between third and short. Fortunately for the Bears Kyle Spraker kept the ball in the infield to keep Rundle at third.

The Huskies still had a chance to do some damage as they had the bases loaded and Clem coming up to bat. Clem looked at three balls and a strike before hitting a soft line drive that looked like it might get into center, but Talbott got just enough glove on it to snare the ball and end the inning.

After missing a golden opportunity to score in the eighth, it looked like the Huskies were done, but they rallied to score twice against Talbott and tie the game at 3 in the last of the ninth. With one out Matt Hague walked and Nick Batkoski singled. Rindal walked to load the bases, and Andy Lentz followed with a blooper to shallow left that dropped for a single, scoring Hague and pinch runner Ryan Anderson. Kiel Lillibridge got thrown out trying to advance to third on Lentz's single, but the Huskies still had a runner on at second with two outs.

Esquer brought in Matt Swanson to relieve Talbott and he walked Rundle. The Bears would not allow Brent Lillibridge to beat them, so they walked him intentionally and chose to pitch to DJ Neyens. Neyens swung and missed at the first two pitches from Swanson, and after looking at two balls, struck out swinging.

In the top of the 11th, the Bears broke through against Conover. Holder led off with a single and took second on a sacrifice by Burchett. Spraker walked, but Howell flied to right for the second out of the inning. Conover got two quick strikes against Van Winden, but the Bear leadoff batter blooped the next pitch to left field, and it just dropped between Brent Lillibridge and Clem for a single, scoring Holder from second. Clem made a fine throw to nail Holder at the plate but he just did beat Neyens' tag.

In the bottom of the inning, Swanson retired Anderson on a fly ball to the warning track to left and struck out Kiel Lillibridge looking. After Lentz grounded a single to right, Swanson struck out Rundle looking to end the game.

Swanson improved to 5-0 with two and a thirds innings of scoreless relief, allowing a hit and two walks while striking out four. Conover suffered the tough luck loss to drop to 0-1, allowing just the one run on two hits and a walk in three and two thirds innings. He also struck out four.

The Huskies travel to Portland for a non-conference game against the Pilots on Tuesday, April 19 before resuming Pac-10 play with a visit to Stanford from April 22 to April 24. The Huskies and Cardinal currently share sixth place in the Pac-10 with 4-5 records. Both teams will attempt to rebound from losses, as the Cardinal return to Sunken Diamond following a sweep by Arizona State in Tempe.

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