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February 26, 2012

Bears are own worst enemies in loss to Dirtbags



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California sophomore lefty Michael Theofanopoulos went 7.0 innings, allowing two hits and two runs, but he also tossed two wild pitches, walked two and hit two batters, as Long Beach State avenged a 2-1 defeat on Saturday night by returning the favor, downing the Bears 2-1 on Sunday afternoon to take the series, two games to one.

The Dirtbags (4-3) got all the offense they would need in the bottom of the second. Theofanopoulos issued a full-count walk to junior slugger Juan Avila, then hit designated hitter Jonathan Kim on a 1-1 offering. Both runners were sacrificed over to second and third by first baseman Jeff Yamaguchi, but after Theofanopoulos got freshman right fielder Josh Guerra swinging, he threw his first wild pitch of the day past catcher Chadd Krist with Kellen Hoime at the dish, allowing Avila to score. A 2-1 single by Hoime plated Kim, and gave Long Beach State the lead for good.

Once again, Cal (4-2) failed to take advantage of any opportunity against the Dirtbags, drawing no walks, stranding three runners on base and going down in order in six of nine offensive innings.

For the second day in a row, the lineup trotted out by head coach David Esquer -- with Chad Bunting batting second instead of in the middle of the order, and Pac-10 Player of the Year Tony Renda batting third instead of first -- failed to string together any of its five hits. Over the past two games, the Bears have posted 14 base knocks, but have had just three runs to show for them.

Bunting, for his part, despite getting the game-winning RBI on Saturday, went 1-for-4 on Sunday, and has gone 1-for-7 hitting second. Sophomore shortstop Derek Campbell -- who has struggled with the leather, making four of Cal's 11 errors on the season, including one on Sunday -- hasn't been able to do much with the stick, either, and after going 0-for-3 in the series finale, is now batting just .091.

The Bears' best opportunity to break the game open came in the top of the fourth, when junior designated hitter Vince Bruno led off with a single, and scored on a Bunting double to bring the Bears to within one.

Renda singled to right on the first pitch he saw, advancing Bunting to third with no outs. Krist then struck out swinging, and first baseman Andrew Knapp grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the only real Cal threat.

Only one Bear had more than one hit on the day: third baseman Mitch Delfino. In fact, after a leadoff double to left center by Delfino in the top of the fifth, Long Beach State retired 15 of the next 16 hitters, with the only blemish being a two-out single by Delfino in the top of the seventh. After Delfino reached on his two-bagger, senior Danny Oh was asked to bunt him over to third, giving up an extra base hit opportunity with the light-hitting Campbell on deck. With Delfino at third following a successful sacrifice, though, Campbell hit a grounder to sophomore lefty starter Ryan Strufing, and, running on contact, Delfino was caught between third and home and was cut down, 1-2-5.

Notebook
Senior Joey Donofrio continued his stout relief work, throwing one scoreless inning with two strikeouts.

The first three hitters in the Bears lineup went a combined 3-for-12. Delfino's two hits were the only other base knocks Cal tallied on the day, as Krist and Knapp combined to go 0-for-7.

On Deck
The Bears will return home on Tuesday to kick off a five-game homestand with a 1:30 PM tilt against 2011 Regional participant San Francisco. Cal will then host Lehigh for three games, including a 2 PM start on March 3 and a doubleheader starting at 11 Am on March 4, before finishing off with a March 6 game against Creighton at 1:30 PM at Evans Diamond.


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