Dave Esquer, the Cal head coach, obviously felt this game was extremely important. He pitched two of his weekend starters, his best reliever, and his closer in this game in relief of the starter Dixon Anderson. In the end, it worked out as the Bears picked up a big 8-3 win.
Dixon Anderson, demoted to the weekday starter from his typical Sunday starter, was given a quick hook after just two innings of work. A Marcus Semien error cost him, as he gave up 2 runs in the second (1 earned) to spot UC Davis an early 2-0 lead. Semien redeemed himself in the third with an RBI single to make it 2-1. Justin Jones came in relief and pitched a scoreless third to keep it that way after 3.
Both teams got runners in scoring position in the fourth, but neither team converted. The Bears dealt their damage in the fifth and sixth, as an offensive explosion turned a 1-2 game into a 6-2 one. Chadd Krist came through with the big hit in the fifth, with a 2 RBI double that took the lead. From there, the Bears went on an offensive tear to take control of the game. Offense and the great bullpen work combined for an eventual 8-3 win.
The relief of Justin Jones, Kevin Miller, Kyle Porter, and Matt Flemer combined for 7 innings of one run relief. The only run came in the final inning, against Flemer. Jones was particularly impressive, striking out 5 in his 4 innings and only yielding one hit.
However, one has to worry about the usage of both Miller and Jones. Miller was held back, only throwing 13 pitches. On the other side is Jones, who threw 59 pitches and had to get through several stressful innings. That will make him, in all likelihood, unavailable for Saturday’s game. This could be part of Esquer’s plan; as commentator Cal BB Fan posted here, it’s a possibility that Miller takes the ball against UCLA’s Trevor Bauer on Saturday, and Jones gets the more favorable match-up on Sunday. If that’s the case, then I actually think this is solid coaching work from Esquer.
While the coaching looked a little questionable, it’s obvious that Dave Esquer is fighting for wins today and not worrying about tomorrow. For now, the strategy is working, as Cal earned a very important victory today. They’re up to 29 on the season, and getting to 30 is usually a solid number to make the NCAA Tournament.