Sorenson: Cal’s Jefferies Dams BeaversAt The Ballpark
BERKELEY, Calif. — What an interesting day this Thursday before Easter was in the national scene. Picking up where last weekend left off there seemed to be lots of surprises from across the country.
I was able to catch a flight and make it up to Berkeley for one of the better showdowns of the day as Cal hosted Oregon State in a Pac-12 opener from Evans Diamond. It was an epic night for the homesteading Bears, knocking off the red-hot Beavers thanks to their junior righthander Daulton Jefferies, who at 6-0 has established himself as one of the top arms in the country.
And despite two home runs hit off him, most of the Beaver batting order will agree with me on that one.
WHAT I SAW AT EVANS DIAMOND
It was billed as a showdown between great unbeaten pitchers, but one lasted the whole game and one lasted just 3.1 innings. Cal’s Jefferies was resplendent, tossing a complete-game four-hitter while Oregon State’s Drew Rasmussen had a bad back flare up on him again, cutting his appearance short. The Bears offense fed off the early exit and piled up five runs in that fourth inning to account for all the runs they’d need.
Oregon St – 100 000 100 – 2 4 3
California – 000 510 00x – 6 5 0
WP: Daulton Jeffries, 6-0
LP: Drew Rasmussen, 4-1
– K.J. Harrison, 1-for-4, HR, RBI
– Logan Ice, 1-for-3, HR, RBI
– Nick Halamandaris, 2-for-4, 2B, 2RBI
– Brenden Farney, 1-for-4, RBI
– Robbie Tenerowicz, 1-for-4, RBI
– Oregon State, 16-3
– California, 12-6
HOW IT WENT DOWN:
If Daulton Jefferies lived in the Wild West days, he’d be the most-feared member of the Dalton Gang. He is that ruthless, stealing the confidence and resolve of opponents everywhere from his spot on the mound.
Yes, I realize those are two different spellings of the same name, but just work with me here. Because to say that Cal’s starting pitcher was on his game tonight is an understatement. In all, Jefferies threw 106 pitches, 73 of them for strikes, held the Beavers to four hits and didn’t walk a single opponent on the night. Hell, he didn’t have a passed ball, a wild pitch, a balk, a hangnail, a hair out of place or even a single angry thought in his mind as he went the distance on a cool night in the Bay Area.
He wasn’t overpowering, but he was dominant. (Did that make sense?) What I mean is that he didn’t have 15 or 20 strikeouts on the night but he kept the Beavers under his thumb the entire game and gave them no hope of a comeback after his bat-mates grabbed the lead. He was still hitting the low-90s on his heater in the ninth inning, delighting the crowd of scouts behind home plate.
I mean, look, Oregon State came in hitting .331 as a team. In fact, of the eight regulars who started Thursday’s game, their batting averages were: .349, .395, .314, .434, .362, .286, .348 and .317. Yet, there was Jefferies, throwing his 91-93 mph fastball and dangerous cutter past the confounded countenances of the Beavers all night long.
The Beavers weren’t totally inept as K.J. Harrison and Logan Ice each blasted a no-doubter home run beyond the 365 power alleys in right and left, respectively. But between those two circuit clouts, the Cal Bear offense posted five runs in the fourth and a single run in the fifth to put the game out of logical reach … at least with the way Jefferies was throwing.
Rasmussen, who came into the game unbeaten but also suffering from back stiffness, started out very strong, giving up only a walk in the first trek through the Cal order and holding the Bears hitless through three innings.
But a one-out error got the ball rolling for the Berkeley boys in the fourth and Brenden Farney and Nick Halamandaris followed with RBI singles. What would eventually become the game-winning run was a bases-loaded walk to leadoff hitter Devin Pearson. Rasmussen was pulled mid-stream in that suddenly ugly fourth inning, although I shouldn’t say “pulled” exactly because at one point he just stopped between pitches and motioned for his catcher Logan Ice to come to the mound. A few seconds later, he was pulling himself out of the game. I’m guessing that tricky back issue was haunting him again.
An inning later, Halamandaris would add to the lead in the fifth with a two-out RBI double. That would be more than Jefferies would need to slump the shoulders of the Beavers.
Wanna hear the weirdest stat of all? Tonight’s win for Jefferies finally puts him with a winning overall career record at 14-13. Yes, it’s true. The last time he had a winning career mark was when he started his Bears journey with wins over Texas and East Tennessee State as a freshman. Since February 24, 2014 he has had a losing record. Jefferies went on to lose his next eight decisions of his first year and then went 6-5 last year.
– Finally Making His Debut.
Oregon State’s fourth pitcher of the night was lefthander Christian Martinek, a redshirt frosh who had yet to make an appearance on the mound in a college baseball game. He spent all of last year and the first month of this year on the shelf but finally got some action tonight. And he did quite well, tossing a near-perfect eighth inning. The only bugaboo was an error on third baseman Cadyn Grenier. But no-harm, no-foul, Martinek got Preston Grand Pre to fly out to end the inning unscathed.
– Gun Control.
I sat right under the dugout for the the last few innings of the game and noticed a wide discrepancy between the scouts and their speed guns in front of me. As an example, on one pitch that Daulton Jefferies threw he registered a 91 on one scouts gun and an 87 on the dude sitting next to him.
– No Gap For Cumberland
Cal’s Brett Cumberland went hitless tonight but he still kept his streak of reaching base in every game he has played in this year intact. Cumberland went 0-for-2 but reached base on an error and a walk. Both times, he came around to score. He also came into this weekend series leading the Bears with a .412 average and also on-base percentage at .552.
– The Streak Stops At 93.
Prior to tonight, Cal’s Aaron Knapp had started 93 straight games in the leadoff position, but hit at No. 2 in the order tonight behind Devin Pearson. Coming into tonight Knapp has seen his average dip to .243 and his on-base percentage drop to .296. Coach Dave Esquer said those two factors were the simple reasons why he made the change. Knapp went 0-for-3 on the night but did have an RBI groundout in his third at-bat of the night.
Caught up with Cal coach Dave Esquer after the game.
– On Daulton Jefferies’ pitch count:
“He was still under a hundred going into the ninth inning, but his count is about 110, maybe to 115. We’re not going to set him up to go to 125 or 130. He actually hasn’t been over 100 pitches in a game all year, so this was his high so far.”
– On having Jefferies on the hill every Friday:
“We feel like we have a great chance for that every Friday. And he’s taken that next step compared to where he was a year ago. I think that experience with Team USA last summer just did a lot for his confidence and he has brought it to the field each time out. But his effort was outstanding tonight.”
– On what a win like this against the No. 2 team in the country means:
“When you get that kind of effort against a team like that (OSU), who people hold in regard to be a College World Series-type of team, that’s really big. For us to be who we want to be we are going to have to play at that level and beat teams like that. So it was a big win for us.”
– On the key to beating a team like Oregon State:
“It sounds so cliche but pitching and defense will win you games. And that’s who we are. We’re not going to run out there and out-talent teams and bludgeon them to death. We have to play good defense and pitch really well like we did tonight.”
– On the mental toughness of his team:
“At times, we can play old. We really can. We’ve got a pretty experienced team but one of the things that has surprised us is I thought we would really be a lock-down defensive team this year but we’ve shown out of the gate that we had times where we just kind of lost our rhythm on defense early on and we started to give the opposition a little too much. I thought we played a lot better defensively tonight. If we play like this all season we’re not going to give any games away.”
Now for a quick spin around our sport across the nation. Let’s go.
The best of the day in college baseball
1- Luck of the Irish? Pffft! It’s The Skill Of The Irish
Sophomore DH Jake Shepski launched three (3) home runs and accounted for nine RBI and 17 total bases as Notre Dame bombarded Virginia Tech 16-3 in game one of their ACC series. Shepksi hit a solo dinger, a two-run dinger and a three-run dinger along the way. It is “believed” to be the first time an Irish player had more than eight RBI in a single game. Shepski also ended the day a single short of hitting for the cycle.
2- The Rambling Wreckers
Following the leads of Mississippi State and Alabama last weekend, Georgia Tech is the latest team to look very pedestrian, get written off, then pull off a huge win to get our attention again. Today, The Jackets went to Boshamer Stadium and stunned No. 4 North Carolina 3-2, giving them a huge feather in their caps. Junior pitchers Brandon Gold and Matthew Gorst combined to hold the hot-Heels to two runs on six hits and the Engineers defense also turned its nation-leading 37th double play of the season. Oh, this also busted a nine-game losing streak in ACC road games for the Techsters. Strong work GT.
3- Cocks Of The Walk
How about South Carolina, huh? The Gamecocks traveled to Oxford, totally tuned out the 8,167 Swayze Field lunies and pulled out a stem-to-stern 5-1 whipping of Ole Miss. All nine starters got a hit on the night and they also benefitted from seven walks from the Rebel pitching staff. Gene Cone did what leadoff batters do, collecting a team-best three hits an scoring twice. The Cocks are now 21-2 overall and a perfect 4-0 in SEC play. Clarke Schmidt improved to 6-0 with 6. 2 innings of work, striking out eight Rebel batters along the way. Just a solid solid, solid effort all the way around for Chad Holbrook’s charges.
– The M Boys.
The top two spots in the Wagner batting order went downright batty today as Nick Mascelli and Sean Mazzio combined to go 7-for-10 with seven RBI and seven runs scored as the Hawks bombed Mount St. Mary’s 20-4. Four-hole hitter Anthony Harrold added a grand slam as part of a eight-run seventh inning which turned this one into a pity party.
– Russell. Athletic.
Fresno State’s Brody Russell, the Bulldog three-hole hitter, lived up to his role today by going 5-for-6 with five RBI to lead them to a 13-4 win at San Jose State. That was part of an 18-hit night for Fresno and the Bulldog pitchers held the Spartans to just five hits through the first eight innings of the game. They then gave up a three window dressing hits in the final frame.
– Everything’s Fine At The ‘Dine
Pepperdine came into its game vs. arch-rival San Diego with a very pedestrian 9-10 record but posted a dominant 8-0 win thanks to the 7.0 innings of work from staff ace A.J. Puckett and the wicked-hot bat of Brad Anderson and his five RBI. Puckett surrendered just five hits and struck out nine Toreros on the day and Anderson finished with a 3-for-5 day.
– The Pitching Of CSUN and Portland.
These two West Coast schools played a knock-down, drag-out for 15 innings before the Matadors finally pulled through with a run in the top of the frame on Justin Toerner’s lone hit of the day, an RBI single scoring Yusuke Akitoshi from second base. Six pitchers, two for CSUN and four for PU, combined to hold opposing batters to just 10 hits in those 15 innings. There were also 31 strikeouts, led by Rayne Raven’s eight Ks for the Matadors. In all there were 457 pitches thrown between the two squads.
– The Timely Hitting Of Portland.
The two teams then played a second game which saw the Pilots enter the bottom of the ninth with a 5-2 deficit. Michael Forgione’s lone hit of the game was the game-winning jog-off two-run single, part of a three-RBI game for the Pilot shortstop.
– Corbin Part One
St. Mary’s ace Corbin Burnes is bucking for All-America mention as he tossed his second straight complete-game shutout in the 2-0 win over Gonzaga today. He threw a near no-hitter last Friday at San Diego, then followed that up with a 127-pitch shutout of the Bulldogs today, striking out six and walking just one. St. Mary’s is now 12-8 overall and 3-1 in WCC play and 6-0 in games that Burnes has started.
His coach, pitching guru Eric Valenzuela said afterward, “I think he’s starting to get his stride going. He’s kind of settled in and he’s become a complete pitcher – throwing four pitches for strikes and when you can do that you have guys mixed up all over.
– Corbin Part Two
Yes, UNF fans, I got the tweets about your boy Corbin Olmstead. Thanks mucho homies. For those of you who don’t know, the North Florida dynamo was a one-man wrecking crew today as the Ospreys took down Dartmouth 8-6. At the dish Olmstead hit a home run as part of a 2-for-4, three-RBI day. He also got the final out of the game on the mound as the Big Green was threatening, to pick up his second win of the season.
The worst of the day in college baseball
1- We Are Not Marshall… tonight.
The Thundering Herd wasn’t so thundering for their own cause tonight as the relented 11 walks in a 10-5 loss to FIU. In fact, the Golden Panthers only garnered four hits on the entire night. In the decisive seventh inning, one hit, five walks and one error helped the Panthers score four runs as they raced past Marshall to a 10-5 win. Seven MU pitchers couldn’t stop the hemorrhaging as they dropped to 11-9 and 1-3 in Conference USA play.
2- Georgia State Of Shock
The Panthers held Louisiana-Lafayette to just two hits the entire night but still took a 4-2 loss on the chin. GSU starter Wayne Wages was the hard-luck – nay, hacked-off – loser after giving up the two measly hits in 7.0 innings of work. The Ragin Cajuns scored a pair of runs in the eighth inning to ice the game without the benefit of a hit, but three walks and a stolen base played a big part. Bryce Conley took the loss for GSU when he gave up three walks in 1/3 innings of work.
3- UT San Antontio
Ugh. It’s getting no better for the Roadrunners. After being named one of my “Ouch List” teams for last week after losing a close woulda-coulda-shoulda series at home to Rice, the ‘Runners blew a 5-4 ninth inning lead and allowed Tim Lynch to smack a two-out, two-run single to give Southern Miss a jog-off single to end the game. This marks UTSA’s third straight loss, dropping the record to 10-11. USM, who is ranked No. 16 in the latest RPI, improved to 17-6.
– Frogs Get Horned.
TCU committed a season-high four errors. And the Frogs pitching staff also allowed double-digit hit totals for just the fourth time this season as they lost a 4-3 game at Texas in the opening game of their weekend series. And get this, freshman phenom Luken Baker gave eight hits and four runs in 4.2 innings of work.
– Titan-ic Meltdown.
Cal State Fullerton was one out away from a 4-2 win over arch-rival Long Beach State when Luke Rasmussen crushed a Chad Hockin offering for a two-run homer to left field, tying the game at 4-4. Then, in the 12th inning, a controversial catch/no-catch call went against the Titans, allowing Garrett Nelson to reach base. He would eventually come around to score on a wild pitch, which was the winning run for the Dirtbags. Ouchie-mama.
Okay, that’s enough for now. I am currently in San Francisco’s airport finishing this up before I board my 5:15am flight back to SmogLand. Yes, it’s that early. So I am just making this an all-nighter here at the airport. I’ve got to give SFO credit, they are one of the few airports in the world that offer free internet and a strong signal. It is what has made tonight’s column so satisfying. I hope you guys dig it.
Gonna go fall asleep on a plane now.