Baker’s Blast: Dusty’s son Darren hits winning HR for Cal
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Darren Baker got mobbed — no, not scooped up this time — by his teammates at home plate after a game-winning blast.
The Cal freshman second baseman slugged his first college home run in the bottom of the 12th inning Saturday night to lead the Golden Bears over Brown 4-3 . That came after he sent the game to extra innings with an infield single that tied it in the ninth.
The son of former big league player and manager Dusty Baker was part of one of baseball’s most memorable postseason moments when he was just 3 years old. He was a bat boy for the San Francisco Giants — managed by his father — in the 2002 World Series. During Game 5 against the Angels, the youngster ran to the plate to pick up a bat when J.T. Snow scored, but David Bell was flying down the third-base line and heading home.
A quick-thinking Snow plucked Baker away from the plate and out of harm’s way — creating an everlasting image on baseball’s biggest stage.
Now 19, Darren Baker is making memories in college while coming through in the clutch for Cal.
The Golden Bears (10-4) trailed Brown with two outs in the ninth when Baker chopped a grounder down the right side of the infield. Brown first baseman Cameron Deere fielded the ball, but Baker beat the throw — allowing Connor Mack to score the tying run.
Three innings later, sent a 1-0 pitch from Grant Greeno (0-1) over the right-field fence to win the game. The excited Golden Bears raced out onto the field as Baker rounded the bases and greeted him at the plate with big-time hugs and back slaps.
“Coach (Noah) Jackson and I were talking about a game plan in the on-deck circle before I went up and I just backed off the plate,” Baker said. “I got a hit off him yesterday on a fastball and I didn’t think he’d throw that again, so I was really sitting curveball.
“He got it to me and it was the perfect pitch at the perfect time.”
Baker finished 2 for 6 with three RBIs against Brown (3-4). Cal reliever Arman Sabouri (2-1) picked up the win with five scoreless innings.
Baker was drafted by Washington last year — while Dusty was still managing the Nationals — in the 27th round, but opted to attend school. He’s hitting .290 with one homer and 11 RBIs in 14 games this season for Cal.