Most people, if they got hit in the face by a baseball, would think about taking one or two days off.
Not Mitch Delfino.
The Cal third baseman not only started the game after his beaning on Friday but also did some damage of his own, standing out offensively over the next two games. Through the first three games of the Bears’ series at Nebraska, Delfino has exacted a measure of revenge on Nebraska’s pitchers, batting 8-of-12 with three runs scored and four RBIs — including the game-winning hit in Sunday’s 4-0 win.
Delfino went 3-for-4 on Sunday, driving in first baseman Andrew Knapp in the second inning for what would prove to be the decisive RBI in Sunday’s contest. The Bears (11-3) added single runs in the third, seventh and ninth innings to pad the lead.
Cal’s fourth run came with two outs in the ninth when left fielder Darrel Matthews reached on a single and scored on catcher Chadd Krist’s double. That double was the 52nd of Krist’s Cal career, moving him into sole possession of fourth place in the Cal record books. Two more will put him in third place ahead of Xavier Nady, a former Pac-10 player of the year and current Major Leaguer.
Dominant Cal pitching would have made just that second inning run stand up. The Bears’ arms combined to take a no-hitter into the seventh inning and allowed just six Huskers to reach base on the afternoon.
Sophomore Kyle Porter (2-0, 0.00 ERA) gave up just one walk through four scoreless innings for the win Sunday in his second start back from injury.
“He looked like himself,” said head coach David Esquer in reference to Porter’s form in the 2011 season, when he went 6-0 with a 1.89 ERA. “We’re going to need that throughout the rest of the year.”
Five different pitchers threw in relief for Porter and held the Huskers scoreless, a game plan which Esquer attributed to pitching coach Mike Neu. The Cal bullpen allowed just three hits and a walk in preserving Porter’s win.
The bullpen, a question mark before the season began, has been a relative strength for the Bears on this road trip. Through the first three games, Cal relievers have surrendered four earned runs in 12 innings of work.
Sunday’s impressive pitching comes after dismal performances in the first two games of the series when Cal gave up a combined 20 runs. The Bears will look to continue Sunday’s dominance on Monday when they send lefty Michael Theofanopoulos (0-1, 3.12 ERA in three starts) to the mound in the series finale.
The Bears and the Huskers, who dropped to 9-6 with Sunday’s loss, will square off Monday at 10:05 a.m.