Bullpen delivers first series victory in almost a month

Michael Gethers/File
Senior right-hander Stephen Pistoresi was one of 11 pitchers the Bears sent to the mound in their weekend series against Texas.

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In the first two games of the Cal baseball team’s series with No. 18 Texas, the winner was decided by 10 runs. The Bears fell, 13-3, on Friday but rebounded with a 12-2 victory on Saturday.

On Sunday’s rubber match, the teams combined for 11 runs, but the game was decided by just one. Cal claimed its first series victory in almost a month with a 6-5 win over the Longhorns at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas.

The game was every bit as tight as the score indicated. The Bears (16-10, 1-5 in the Pac-12) took a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning, and coach David Esquer made the bold call to bring in shaky closer Logan Scott to try for a two-inning save.

Scott got roughed up early in his outing. The junior gave up a single followed by an RBI triple by center fielder Tim Maitland to cut Cal’s lead to one. Scott regained his focus, getting a ground out and a strikeout to end the inning and leave the tying run stranded at third base.

Texas (15-11, 5-1 in the Big 12) again threatened in the ninth. Scott issued a leadoff walk and the tying run was bunted over to second. Scott locked in, striking out the next two batters swinging to seal the save and the series.

Thanks to a solid outing by the Cal bullpen that patched together the win, Cal never trailed in the game. Starter Kyle Porter only made it through 1.1 innings, giving up a run and leaving the bases loaded with one out for freshman reliever Keaton Siomkin. Porter was charged with a second run that tied the game 2-2 on a groundout that scored the runner from third, but Siomkin limited the damage and got out of the inning.

Siomkin was charged with two runs in the fourth, but a combination of sophomore Michael Lowden and senior Joey Donofrio quelled the threat to keep the game tied at four apiece.

Donofrio (3-0) corralled the Longhorns, giving up just one hit and striking out three in 2.1 innings of work, the longest stint of any Cal pitcher on the day and enough to earn him the win. Midweek starter Michael Theofanopoulos came in to work the seventh and retired the side in order before handing the ball to Scott to pitch the last two innings.

The Bears’ offense did its part to ease some pressure on the bullpen. The bats didn’t look tired after Saturday’s 17-hit slugfest that put up 12 runs. Cal scored in each inning from the second until the sixth, with two scores coming in the second frame.

Third baseman Mitch Delfino became the third Bear to hit a home run over the weekend with a solo shot in the third inning for a 3-2 lead. The junior’s two-out single in the sixth inning scored shortstop Chris Paul from second base, which proved to be Cal’s winning run.

Catcher Chadd Krist knocked the 55th career double in the fifth inning to move into a tie for second all-time in Cal history. Former standout and later hitting coach Jon Zuber holds the record with 61 doubles.

A previous version of this article’s headline incorrectly stated that Cal’s series victory against Texas was a sweep. In fact, the Bears only won two of three games.