Two weeks ago, Cal baseball coach David Esquer was worrying about his sophomore starter Justin Jones.
“Hopefully by getting him out there over and over and over again then we get that old Justin Jones knowing the lights out pitcher that he is,” Esquer said.
Maybe Jones is back.
In their first game since a roadtrip to Oregon State in early May, the No. 25 Bears defeated UC Davis 8-3 at Dobbins Stadium. And, perhaps even more crucially for Cal as the season draws to a close, Jones regained something of his old form.
Over the past few starts, Jones has struggled. He has pitched long outings and given up few runs, but his control has been spotty. Against a light-hitting Santa Clara squad on May 3, Jones put four of the seven batters he faced on base.
That wasn’t the case on Wednesday. In relief of starter Dixon Anderson, Jones gave up a single hit in four innings of work. He struck out five.
It was a by-committee pitching day if there ever was one. Coming off a two week layoff — final exams and graduation kept the Bears focused on school rather than sport — Esquer got three of his four starters on the mound against the 16-31 Aggies. Anderson, Jones and usual midweek starter Kevin Miller held UC Davis to three hits.
The Bears’ batters didn’t look like they were coming off a long vacation. Cal banged out 13 hits, three each from shortstop Marcus Semien and first baseman Devon Rodriguez.
They did seem tired in the field, though. The Bears committed four errors, two each from Semien and catcher Chadd Krist. Luckily for Cal, the Aggies couldn’t capitalize anyway.
The Bears play their second-to-last conference series of the year this weekend at UCLA.
Katie Dowd covers baseball.