Cal messes with Texas, but good, in monumental 4-game sweep
Mar. 08, 2016
California did what no other opponent had done in the proud history of Texas Longhorns baseball. The Golden Bears swept a four-game series — in Austin — and won the last one after trailing by seven runs with two outs in the eighth inning.
The accomplishment grabbed the attention of the college baseball world, and Cal coach David Esquer was quick to praise his pitching the first three games and his players' refusal to give in when they were down on Sunday. He didn't overinflate the importance of the series, though.
"If we want to win a regional or super regional and get to Omaha, we're going to have beat someone really good on the road," he said Monday. "So going into Texas and playing in front of that crowd and in that environment against a good quality opponent with a pitching staff was a big test for us. I don't think we've played at that level enough all year."
The Bears (9-3) returned most of the pieces of the team that reached a regional final last season, and no one would be surprised if they made a run at a College World Series berth in Omaha. They're picked to finish in the top three of the Pac-12 and ranked in the top 10 in one poll this week.
Cal's strength is its pitching, and it showed the first three games at Texas. Sophomore Jeff Bain threw 6 1-3 shutout innings in a 4-1 win Thursday, junior Daulton Jefferies struck out seven in seven innings in a 4-3 win Friday, and senior Ryan Mason and freshman Tanner Dodson combined on a three-hit shutout in a 6-0 win Saturday.
The offense came through Sunday. Brian Celsi singled in the eighth for the Bears' first two runs, and they scored five times in the ninth to force extra innings. Celsi drove in the tie-breaking run in the 11th, and the Bears won 10-7 to become the first of 79 teams to ever sweep Texas in a four-game series.
A look around the country:
LUCK OF THE IRISH: Notre Dame (6-5) has four walk-off wins in its last seven games. The latest came when freshman Matt Vierling homered in the 10th inning to beat Niagara 5-4 Sunday. Vierling also pitched a perfect top of the 10th to earn the win. Niagara left 19 runners on base.
ABOUT SCHMIDTS: Brothers Clarke and Clate Schmidt were front and center, for different sides, in the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry. Clarke Schmidt allowed one hit over 5 1-3 shutout innings in the Gamecocks' 8-1 win Friday. Clate Schmidt and Pat Krall combined on a two-hit shutout in Clemson's 5-0 win Saturday. Clemson won 4-1 Sunday to take the series.
FIRST WIN'S A BIG ONE: Eastern Illinois' Jason Anderson picked up the first win of his coaching career when his Panthers (1-10) knocked off nationally ranked Arkansas 10-8 in 12 innings Saturday. Arkansas narrowly escaped with the series, winning 3-2 on Cullen Gassaway's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth Sunday.
HITTING FOR CYCLE: Freshman Shane Selman on Sunday became the first freshman in the 63-year history of McNeese State's program to hit for the cycle. Selman homered in the first inning, singled in the second, doubled in the sixth and tripled in the eighth. Selman scored four times in a 9-3 win over Bradley.
FUN IN FRESNO: Fresno State's best start since 1951 ended with a 5-4 loss at San Diego State on Sunday. The Bulldogs had won their first 11 games for their longest streak since 2006.
POLL WATCH: Florida (12-1) remains No. 1 in the major polls following a 5-0 week ending with a three-game sweep of Dartmouth that included Buddy Reed's walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th inning Saturday. California moved into the top 10, at No. 9, in the Baseball America poll. Clemson entered the D1Baseball.com and Collegiate Baseball newspaper polls, at Nos. 20 and 22.
This version corrects spelling of Daulton Jefferies last name in fifth paragraph.