Bears’ bats fall silent in doubleheader

The Cal baseball team’s bats were hurled on the ground of the dugout in the fifth inning. “Do something!” a frustrated Bear implored, yelling loud enough for most of Evans Diamond to hear.

The challenge worked — Cal got a run in the bottom of the fifth on a single by Mitch Delfino to score Chad Bunting. Unfortunately for coach David Esquer’s club, the runs did not suddenly pour in to turn around Cal’s sputtering offense.

That run proved to be the Bears’ lone one of the game, as Cal fell to Oregon State, 4-1, in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Beavers (13-5, 2-0 in the Pac-12) ran away with a 9-2 victory in the first game.

“We may have been off the field for three or four days because of the weather, but it looked like we’ve been off the field for two weeks,” said coach David Esquer. “They beat us in all phases.”

Aside from that one run in the fifth, the Bears’ bats went dormant. Cal (11-6, 0-2) got just five hits in the game and never really threatened to score again until the bottom of the ninth.

Tony Renda opened the final frame with his first hit of the day, a double to left field. The second baseman advanced to third on a ground ball, but Oregon State closer Tony Bryant got a popout and a strikeout to end the game. Starter Dan Child went eight strong innings, issuing six strikeouts and surrendering just one extra-base hit.

Renda and catcher Chadd Krist, who have largely been the Bears’ offensive spark, were quieted in both games, going a combined 2-for-16.

“We pride ourselves that (Krist and Renda) don’t have to do it for us to be a good team,” Esquer said. “But quite honestly, if Renda, Krist and (Justin) Jones and players of those names don’t come through for us, we’re really reaching. They have to be the cornerstones of our team and they weren’t today.”

The Beavers, meanwhile, didn’t have to do much offensively to come away with the win. In fact, Cal logged one more hit than Oregon State.

A rough first inning for the Bears set the tone. Starter Matt Flemer plunked leadoff man Max Gordon, then fumbled Tyler Smith’s bunt to put runners on first and second. After Flemer struck out power hitter Michael Conforto, Krist tried to gun down Gordon at third but sailed the ball over third baseman Delfino’s head. Gordon came in to score, and Smith advanced to third. A sacrifice fly brought Smith home, allowing the Beavers to get two runs on no hits while Cal committed two errors.

Flemer settled down, retiring the Oregon State batters in order until Ryan Dunn took him deep to left in the fourth inning. The senior right-handed pitcher gave up only one earned run over seven innings with six strikeouts, but got tagged with the loss to even his record at 2-2.

Saturday’s first game started in a similar fashion, but unfolded much differently. Starter Justin Jones hit Gordon to start the game and Gordon scored on an error, this time by Delfino, who bungled two ground balls for two errors in the inning. Again the Beavers put a run on the board without a single hit.

Unlike Flemer, Jones did not settle into a groove in the subsequent innings. The Beavers took advantage of Jones’ lack of command, scattering four more runs on seven hits over the lefty’s five innings. The bullpen didn’t fare much better, coughing up four runs in the last two frames, while Cal’s offense stagnated.

The top of the order proved the most difficult outs for the Bears. Smith padded his numbers as a Cal-killer, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs. Gordon and Conforto contributed two hits apiece.