Saturday was Cal Day on the Berkeley campus. At Evans Diamond, it was the Cal baseball team’s day too.
Matt Flemer tossed eight shutout innings, and all nine starters reached base as the Bears shut down Utah 9-0 in one of their most complete outings of the year. Cal (22-15, 6-8 in the Pac-12) has won three straight and five of its last six.
Beneath a warm, clear Berkeley sky, Flemer (6-2) continued his string of stunning starts, striking out a season-high eight batters and scattering just five hits. The senior confounded a hapless Utah lineup all afternoon, at one point tossing three straight 1-2-3 innings. Flemer was lifted after eight innings despite having thrown just 100 pitches.
The righty has been spectacular since his March 10 debacle at Nebraska, where he allowed 10 runs (nine of which were earned) in seven innings. The senior has allowed just one earned run in his last three outings, good for a microscopic 0.36 ERA. His ERA for the season now sits at 1.92, and would be a full point lower if not for the Nebraska game.
But Flemer wasn’t the only star Saturday. Offense, defense, pitching and base running — the Bears excelled in every facet of the game.
Every batter in Cal’s starting lineup reached base at least once, and each recorded either a run or an RBI. Chadd Krist got the scoring started for the Bears with a towering solo home run that bounced off the roof of the Recreational Sports Facility in left field. Two batters later, Darrel Matthews singled and alertly advanced to second on a wild pitch, coming home on the ensuing Chris Paul single.
And the Bears would make the Utes (10-27, 5-12) pay for their mistakes all afternoon.
With runners on first and second and Cal leading 3-0 with two outs in the sixth, Vince Bruno hit a soft tapper to second baseman Cory Hunt that looked like it would end the inning. But the Utah infielder muffed the play, allowing Danny Oh to come around and score Cal’s fourth run.
That was when the wheels started to fall off for the Utes.
After the error, Utah starter Brock Duke (2-2) allowed both runners to move up 90 feet on a wild pitch. The junior’s day ended one out short of a quality start, after his walk to Andrew Knapp loaded the bases.
With a chance to blow the game wide open, Tony Renda delivered. After Derek Campbell scored on the second wild pitch of the inning, Renda lined a two-run base hit to center, extending Cal’s lead to 7-0. After a stolen base, a wild pitch and a walk, the inning mercifully ended without further damage on a Krist popout.
The Bears scored four runs in the sixth despite just two hits, taking advantage of three walks, three wild pitches and an error. All the runs were unearned, and all came with two outs.
Cal added a run each in the seventh and eighth. Knapp launched his second home run in as many days in the eighth, a solo shot that bounced off the wall of Edwards Stadium in right field, where the Cal football Spring Game was played that morning.
Paul and Mitch Delfino led Cal with three hits apiece. Bruno and Knapp scored two runs each, and seven Bears scored at least once on the day.
The Utes only advanced a runner past first base once. In the third inning, designated hitter Josh Alexander doubled, and a single put runners on first and third with one out. But a botched squeeze play got the Bears out of the inning when Alexander advanced too far down the third base line and was thrown out by the catcher Krist.
Cal’s defense was superb, as the Bears turned two double plays and did not commit an error. It was the third straight game in which Cal did not commit an error, all wins. Utah’s Shaun Cooper was caught stealing in the second, caught in a 1-4-3-6-1 pickle.
Cal will look for another complete performance and its first sweep of the Pac-12 season on Sunday when lefty Justin Jones (2-5, 4.65 ERA) takes on freshman Mitch Watrous (2-1, 2.51) at 1 p.m. at Evans Diamond.