June 7, 2011
HOUSTON - Baylor was one strike away from winning its first Regional title since 2005, but Devon Rodriguez knocked a two-run, walk-off single to cap a four-run rally as California beat Baylor 9-8 on Monday night at Reckling Park.
Rodriguez's single gave Cal (35-21) the Houston Regional Championship after winning four straight games. Baylor (31-28) knocked off Cal on Friday to send the Golden Bears into the loser's bracket.
"It is a very painful game. It is a very, very painful loss," head coach Steve Smith said. "Both teams played very hard. Both teams competed. Obviously, we are going to have some guys that are going to have some sleepless nights. That is just part of college athletics and athletics in general that honestly can't be duplicated in the classroom. This too shall pass."
Baylor had a chance to close it out after taking an 8-5 lead to the ninth, but Cal took advantage of a couple defensive miscues, three singles, a walk and a hit batter to pull off the rally. Cal scored six of its nine runs in the last two innings, four of them driven in by Rodriguez.
Chad Bunting led off with a single, and Darrel Matthews hit a grounder to second base that could've been a double play, but it was mishandled for an error. Logan Verrett got a fielder's choice groundout for the first out, but the Bears failed to execute when they caught Bunting in a rundown, allowing him to score to cut the lead to 8-6.
After a hit batter, Tony Renda added a RBI single, and a walk to Chadd Krist loaded the bases with one out. Verrett struck out Marcus Semien for the second out and got ahead 0-2 on Rodriguez, but his 1-2 pitch was hit into right field to score the game-winning runs.
Cal reliever Matt Flemer (4-2) recorded the last out in the top of the ninth to earn the win. Verrett (7-6) took the loss, allowing four runs - one of which was earned - on three hits in 1.0 inning of work. He came on in relief of Max Garner with two outs in the eighth and Baylor holding a 7-5 lead.
Garner was in line for the win after turning in the longest outing of his career. He allowed four runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings, but Rodriguez's two-out, two-run homer in the eighth chased him from the game.
Cal took an early lead when Semien hit a two-out RBI double in the first, but the Bears escaped the inning when Cal Towey threw Semien out at third base for his eighth outfield assist of the season.
Golden Bears starter Erik Johnson worked around a pair of singles while holding the Bears scoreless in the first three innings, but Baylor got to him in the fourth after three straight walks loaded the bases with no outs.
Joey Hainsfurther just missed a grand slam when Bunting brought his drive to right back from the other side of the fence, but Bunting couldn't hold on and it went for a two-run double. Jake Miller followed with a two-run single, and the Bears added on two more runs to take a 6-1 lead.
Miller finished 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs and two RBI, while Logan Vick went 3-for-5 with one run and one RBI. Miller, Vick, Josh Turley and Brooks Pinckard were named to the all-tournament team.
Baylor added another run when Miller scored on Towey's grounder in the sixth, but Cal escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam when Brooks Pinckard grounded into the first double play of his collegiate career in his 464th career at-bat.
The Golden Bears used that momentum to plate a pair of runs in the bottom half of the sixth to cut the Baylor lead to 7-3, and Rodriguez's homer in the eighth made it 7-5.
Baylor put an insurance run on the board in the top half of the ninth when Vick hit a two-out RBI single on a 0-2 pitch, but Cal's rally in the bottom half ended the Bears' season.
"I was extremely proud of our guys on a lot of fronts," Smith said. "I thought that they really, really came together as a team more the last couple of days than I have seen this year. That has absolutely nothing to do with what happened on the field, most of what I am talking about is in the dugout after at-bats and after innings."