Bears Walk It Off, Knot Series
BERKELEY – California found a way to work its ninth-inning magic at Evans Diamond once again Friday as Dylan Beavers plated Darren Baker with a walk-off single, sealing a series-tying 4-3 win over USC.
In what has become a recurring theme at Evans Diamond this season, Cal tallied its fifth walk-off victory while snapping a three-game losing streak and improved to 15-10 (3-2 Pac-12). It was the second consecutive walk-off delivered by Beavers, who also smashed a walk-off home run in the series finale against California Baptist on March 21.
With the game tied, 3-3, and USC (12-10, 5-3) threatening with a leadoff double in the top of the ninth, Cal turned to Joseph King on the mound. After allowing a single that put runners on the corners, King induced three straight ground balls to the right side – including a pair to first baseman Nathan Martorella, who threw out the go-ahead runner at the plate – to escape the jam.
The Golden Bears carried that momentum into the home half of the inning, starting with a leadoff walk by Baker. Nathan Manning (3-for-4) moved Baker into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt in the following at bat and reached base himself on a fielding error. That set the stage for Beavers, who singled into right field, easily scoring the speedy Baker from second base.
Cal held an early lead, powered by Quentin Selma's bat and Grant Holman's arm. Selma roped a two-run home run off of the left-field foul pole in the bottom of the first to push Cal in front. Meanwhile, Holman cruised through the first four frames, retiring 13 of 14 Trojans before allowing his first hit, a solo home run, in the top of the fifth.
Working off of a pitch count as he continues to regain strength following a preseason injury, Holman was relieved by Josh White with two outs in the fifth and Cal leading, 2-1. Holman finished with six strikeouts and two baserunners allowed in 4.2 innings pitched.
Martorella drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth to extend the Bears' lead, but USC responded with two runs in the following inning to tie it, 3-3. White maintained his composure and ate up 3.1 innings on the mound, bridging the gap to King in the ninth.
- Cal improved to 11-4 at Evans Diamond this season with its fifth walk-off win.
- Darren Baker (2-for-3) reached safely four times and extended his reached-base streak to 30 games.
- In two limited starts, Holman has 10 strikeouts and a .083 opposing batting average against in 7.2 innings of work.
- Quentin Selma's two-run home run was his fifth long ball of the season, ranking second on the team.
- Nathan Manning went 3-for-4 at the plate with his sixth multi-hit performance in eight games since cracking the starting lineup.
Cal turns to junior right-hander Sean Sullivan on the mound for Saturday's rubber match. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. PT at Evans Diamond.
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