Texas came into its latest three-game series with a 14-9 record. So did Cal. For the 34th time in school history, the Longhorns advanced to last year’s College World Series. So did Cal.
So it was only natural for the Longhorns and Golden Bears, after exchanging 10-run victories the previous two days, to be tied at 4-4 after four innings on Sunday.
Cal capitalized on consecutive hits in the fifth inning and a leadoff walk in the sixth, scoring one run in each frame to take a 6-4 lead. The Golden Bears (16-10, 1-5) would go on to triumph, 6-5, over the No. 18 Longhorns (15-11, 5-1) and win two out of three games against Texas this weekend.
“They got the leadoff hitter on, they gave themselves more opportunities to score and they had more clutch hits than we did,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “That’s what separated the two teams.”
Texas nearly tied the game again in each of the last two innings.
In the eighth, senior center fielder Tim Maitland’s triple brought freshman second baseman Brooks Marlow home with one out, trimming Cal’s lead to 6-5. But Maitland, who had a game-high three hits in four at-bats, was stranded at third base after sophomore right fielder Mark Payton, with the Golden Bears infield playing in, grounded out to shortstop. Senior shortstop Jordan Etier struck out looking to end the threat.
“I just look at it as another stepping stone, something to overcome and work off of,” Maitland said. “It’s really frustrating. It pisses you off. But it happened. We have a lot to learn from it.”
Freshman Ricky Jacquez made his fifth start Sunday, allowing five hits and four runs in 3.1 innings. All three of the errors committed by the Longhorns came with Jacquez on the mound.
Junior Hoby Milner, who fired six scoreless innings in his last outing Wednesday against UT-Pan American, was saddled with the loss after surrendering the go-ahead run in the fifth. Freshman John Curtiss allowed another run in the sixth inning before sophomore close Corey Knebel ended the contest with three scoreless innings.
“It’s a heartbreaker,” Knebel said, who lowered his ERA from to 1.08. “When I saw Tim get that hit, I thought for sure that we would have it tied, and we were going to get the win. I knew it.”
After scoring three first-inning runs and jumping out to a 10-0 lead after the fourth inning, Texas trounced Cal, 13-3, in the series opener. But the Golden Bears bounced back, scoring the first seven runs of Saturday’s game and blowing out the Longhorns, 12-2, to even the series.
The Longhorns fell to 1-5 against Pac-12 Conference opponents, including a three-game sweep at the hands of Stanford.
“Out of conference games are still big games, especially against the Pac-12,” Payton said. “Stanford beat us pretty good so we thought we needed to come back and beat another Pac-12 team. We had our chances but we just didn’t come through today.”
Printed on Monday, April 2, 2012 as: Evenly matched Bears take down Longhorns.