Bears barely break Dons in midweek tilt

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Following Tuesday afternoon’s game against San Francisco, coach David Esquer had a much longer meeting than usual with the Cal baseball team in the outfield.

These sorts of elongated talks are usually reserved for awful losses. But on Tuesday at Evans Diamond, the Bears beat the Dons, 5-3, in an unsatisfying win.

“We’re not really doing anything right right now,” said catcher Chadd Krist.

That’s not entirely true. Cal’s just not doing those things consistently.

All five of the Bears’ runs came with two outs, which indicates some clutch hitting by the sputtering offense. Still, Cal (5-2) left nine runners on base over the course of the game.

USF (5-3) certainly helped the Bears find the scoreboard, especially early.

With two outs and a runner on first base, Dons shortstop Aritz Garcia fielded a groundball that should have ended the first inning. Instead, Garcia tried to get the lead runner rather than the sure out at first, and both runners were safe. Garcia’s flub extended the inning for center fielder Chad Bunting, who doubled both runners home.

Another Cal run came in the second inning, again on a Dons misstep. USF starting pitcher Jordan Remer tried to run down designated hitter Vince Bruno after fielding his grounder but missed the tag at first. With Danny Oh breaking for the plate, Remer overthrew catcher Mason Morioka from his knees, allowing Oh to score.

Cal’s two-run fifth inning was more a product of its own doing. Tony Renda trotted home after a double from Andrew Knapp, and Knapp was driven in by Mitch Delfino’s double.

“We’re being productive with our hits and we’re getting on base a little bit at a time,” Krist said. “But there’s a lot of guys at the top of the order that need to start picking it up and start getting more consistent.”

San Francisco had no problem getting on base, outhitting Cal, 14 to 7,  but struggled to make those hits count. Until the ninth inning, the Dons’ lone run came on a big fly in the fifth off the bat of center fielder Justin Maffei and over the 365 sign in left-center field.

Despite giving up eight hits, freshman right-hander Keaton Siomkin had a solid debut, working his fastball and changeup for a lot of soft ground balls. Aside from the home run, Siomkin only allowed one extra-base hit in four innings of work, a double in the first by second baseman Jason Mahood, who finished the day 3-for-5.

The bullpen largely held strong, with relievers Joey Donofrio and Chris Muse-Fisher combining for two scoreless innings apiece.

“Our pitching staff has been picking us up,” Esquer said. “Our defense hasn’t been great and our offense hasn’t been clicking, so our pitching staff has been really a surprise.”

Closer Logan Scott came into the game looking to preserve a four-run win but got clipped on the elbow by a comebacker, forcing him to leave the game for precautionary measures.

The Dons got two runs off redshirt sophomore Trevor Hildenberger, but the righty got out of a bases loaded jam to secure his first collegiate save.

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