Cal escapes from Fresno in ninth inning with 7-6 win

Michael Gethers/File
Junior third baseman Mitch Delfino went 2-for-4 with a double, three RBIs and a run in the Tuesday win over Fresno State.

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When designated hitter Vince Bruno crossed the plate in the ninth inning for the Cal baseball team’s seventh run, it’s safe to say no one thought it would turn out to be the winning run. The Bears (14-9, 1-5 in the Pac-12) took a commanding 7-2 lead over Fresno State into the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday, but they needed that extra run to escape Beiden Field with a 7-6 win.

The Bulldogs (13-11) scrapped together four runs in the ninth to keep the game in Fresno, Calif., going, but came up one run short of sending the game into extra innings. Three of those runs came with two outs.

Righty Stephen Pistoresi gave up the frame’s first run when pinch hitter Justin Charles, whom Pistoresi beaned to lead off the inning, scored on a ground ball by right fielder Jordan Luplow. The senior reliever walked the next batter he faced, and coach David Esquer decided to hand things over to closer Logan Scott, needing just one out to end the game.

That’s when the floodgates opened.

Trent Garrison knocked a double down the right field line to score two and touched home on a single by the next batter, Kenneth Wise. Fresno State continued to threaten with the tying run in scoring position and the winning run on first, but Scott finally got the out he needed — a flyout by freshman Taylor Temple that sealed the victory.

Scott notched a save for his efforts. Starting pitcher Michael Theofanopoulos (2-3) got credited with the win in a respectable 6 ⅓-inning outing. Theofanopoulos gave up only one earned run, a single by left fielder Aaron Judge in the first inning. The Bulldogs scored in the second on an error by third baseman Mitch Delfino.

Cal committed two errors on the day, the other in the first by Theofanopoulos on a bunt. After those first two innings, Theofanopoulos gave up just two hits and walked three before handing the ball to reliever Joey Donofrio in the seventh inning. The defense went error-free for the rest of the game.

The Bears’ offense, meanwhile, reversed a recent trend of peaking early in games. Cal scored in the top of the first but trailed 2-1 after the second and didn’t regain the lead until Delfino knocked a two-run double in the fifth. Cal scored one run in each of the remaining innings, including a solo shot by Delfino in the seventh.

Bruno had a big day in the leadoff position, finishing 3-for-5 with three runs, including what became the winning run.

The Bears head to Round Rock, Texas, for a four-game series against No. 18 Texas starting Friday at 5 p.m.