Swept: Cougars blown out of Bay Area by Cal

Despite matching up against the Pac-12’s lowest-ranking pitching staff, the WSU baseball team was thoroughly handled by California in the Bay Area.

The Cougars (14-11, 1-5) were held to under 10 runs in a series sweep at the hands of the Golden Bears and surrendered a combined 28 runs in three games played.

Game 1

Redshirt junior left-hander Damon Jones (2-2, 5.94 ERA) allowed nine earned runs on 10 hits Friday night in the Cougars’ 12-2 series-opening loss.

Cal (12-13, 4-5) jumped on Jones early. Three straight singles to open the bottom of the first followed by a bases-clearing triple gave the Golden Bears a 3-0 lead. A fourth single in the inning brought in a runner from third to up Cal’s lead to four heading into the second inning.

In the bottom of the second, Jones found himself in trouble again after giving up a leadoff walk to open the frame, but the 6-foot-5-inch hurler worked his way out of trouble with a strikeout and flyout to end the inning unscathed.

However, Cal pressured Jones again in the third inning. A leadoff single and subsequent passed ball from WSU sophomore catcher Cory Meyer immediately put a runner in scoring position for Cal freshman infielder Cameron Eden. In his second at-bat of the game, Eden mashed a long home run over the left field wall to bring in the runner from second and put the Golden Bears up 6-0.

In the bottom of the fourth, the Golden Bears led off the inning with a triple, which turned into an inside-the-park home run after an overthrow by WSU junior outfielder J.J. Hancock. Trailing 7-0, Jones then issued his second and third walks of the night and another single followed to score both runners and increase Cal’s lead to 9-0.

Jones was then lifted in favor of sophomore right-hander Parker McFadden to mark his shortest outing of the year.

Cal added two more in the bottom of the seventh and another in the eighth to punctuate their 12-run, 12-hit day at the plate.

Junior third baseman Shane Matheny provided the Cougars’ lone source of offense in the game with all bases loaded double in the bottom of the eighth to plate two baserunners. Matheny was thrown out at third base to end the inning after trying to stretch his double into a triple.

WSU left 12 men on base in the game and generated just six hits.

Game 2

A 2-0 fifth inning lead evaporated in the sixth and seventh innings for WSU, as Cal scored seven unanswered runs in the two frames to run away with a 7-2 series-clinching win.

The Cougars got on the board in the top of the fifth. Junior first baseman James Rudkin led off the inning with a single to right and later scored on a double by junior outfielder Blake Clanton.

Two batters later, sophomore shortstop Andres Alvarez doubled to bring in Clanton and increase the WSU lead to 2-0.

The Cougars’ fortunes then took a turn for the worse.

Junior right-hander Ryan Walker (2-3, 5.66 ERA) took the hill on Saturday and looked strong through the first five innings of the game and allowed no runs.

Cal got an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth to close the gap to 2-1 heading into the seventh, where it all fell apart for the Cougars

After a leadoff walk and hit by pitch by Walker, Head Coach Marty Lees yanked Walker and brought in junior right-hander Joe Rosenstein.

Rosenstein plunked the first batter he faced to load the bases, and a Golden Bears single in the next at-bat tied the game at two apiece. Cal then plated five more runs via another walk by Rosenstein and a pair of doubles off senior left-hander Trenton Dupre to seal the final margin of victory.

Game 3

Cal finished off a sweep of WSU in a 9-5 victory after jumping on the Cougars’ best starting pitcher early.

Junior left-hander Cody Anderson got the nod on Sunday and entered with the Pac-12’s sixth-lowest ERA (2.06).

Anderson was not as sharp as usual, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk in just three innings of work. The Cougars’ defense did not make things any easier for Anderson, committing a pair of errors that led to two unearned runs.

All four of Anderson’s runs came in the third inning, as Cal used back-to-back singles to open the inning, a pair of doubles and a WSU error to jump to a 4-0 lead.

The Golden Bears added three more runs in the bottom of the sixth off junior right-hander Colby Nealy.

Trailing 7-0 in the top of the eighth, WSU attempted a brief comeback offensively. Junior outfielder Justin Harrer launched a two-run homer to cut the lead to 7-2.

Rosenstein surrendered two runs in the bottom of the eighth to push Cal’s lead to 9-2. Cal recorded 13 hits in the game and eclipsed double digits in all three games against WSU.

WSU attempted one last rally in the top of the ninth. Three straight singles with the bases loaded from freshman first baseman Jon Burghardt, Harrer and freshman utility Danny Sinatro brought WSU within four runs of Cal, but a groundout to third by Alvarez ended the game.

Rudkin extended his on-base streak to 22 games with his ninth-inning single. The Cougars wrap up their four-game swing through Northern California with a 1 p.m. game at the University of the Pacific today.