Over the past 17 games, junior shortstop Marcus Semien has looked positively nothing like the infielder who started the season hitting just .212 for No. 16 California. Over that span, Semien has gone 19-for-55 (.345) with two home runs, 16 runs scored, seven RBI and six extra-base hits. All he needed on Sunday, though, was one swing of the bat.
With the Bears up 3-2 in the top of the ninth inning, the El Cerrito, Calif., native slugged a one-out offering from freshman right-handed reliever Tyler Kane over the left-center field wall for his team-leading fourth home run of the season, providing what turned out to be the winning margin in a 4-3 Cal win to finish off a series sweep of the hapless Huskies (10-23, 2-7 in the Pac-10).
The Bears (23-9, 9-3) crept out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning thanks to a leadoff single and two straight stolen bases from sophomore left fielder Vince Bruno. After Semien and sophomore second baseman Tony Renda struck out swinging against freshman Washington starter Austin Voth, Bruno came around to score on a single to left from junior catcher Chadd Krist.
Krist started the next rally for Cal, smashing his third double of the series and his Pac-10-leading 19th two-bagger of the season to lead off the top of the fourth. Krist moved to third on a groundout to second by sophomore first baseman Devon Rodriguez, and then came around to score on a double down the right field line by sophomore third baseman Mitch Delfino. Krist's backup behind the dish -- freshman Andrew Knapp -- started the game at designated hitter, and came through in the clutch, extending the Bears' lead to 3-0 with an infield single to second base to score Delfino.
On the day, Knapp went 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Over the past six games, Knapp has gone 7-for-17 (.412) to raise his season batting average to .255.
As Cal offense plugged along, junior right-handed starter Dixon Anderson held Washington to just one hit - a Brendan Gardner-Young single in the the third - over seven strong innings, but Big Dix's armor began to crack in the eighth, as he loaded the bases with no outs on singles from first baseman Eric Peterson and catcher B.K. Santy, followed by a walk to right fielder Chase Anselment.
Do-everything senior right-hander Kevin Miller then entered to try and stop the bleeding. Miller surrendered an RBI infield single to second base off the bat of Gardner-Young, and then got pinch hitter Brian Wolfe to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Santy, before finally ending the threat on a groundout to second by leadoff man Spencer Rogers.
Semien got one run back in the top of the ninth with his solo shot, giving the Bears a 4-2 lead going into the ninth inning.
Miller got sophomore left fielder Joe Meggs to ground out to second to lead off the frame, but then allowed a single to center off the bat of the Huskies' best hitter, sophomore middle infielder Jacob Lamb. With left-handed hitters Troy Scott and Peterson up next, head coach David Esquer called upon freshman lefty specialist Kyle Porter, who came into the series with a 1.29 ERA in Pac-10 competition. Porter, though, promptly surrendered a double to left-center to Scott, putting two men in scoring position with one out.
Pressing the advantage, Huskies manager Lindsay Meggs -- Joe's father and a former UCLA Bruin -- sent in right-handed pinch-hitter Ryan Wiggins to spell Peterson, prompting Esquer to counter by bringing in closer Matt Flemer.
Wiggins produced an RBI groundout to short for the second out before Flemer hit Santy, only his second hit batsman of the season. Santy stole second to put two runners in scoring position for freshman second baseman Reggie Jones and his .136 batting average. As has become the norm for Matty Ice, the junior flamethrower struck Jones out swinging to end the game and earn his fourth save of the season.
Anderson improved to 4-1 on the season, getting the win for his seven-plus
innings of work, giving up just three hits, striking out six, and walking
Senior right fielder Austin Booker went 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. Krist went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Bears banged out 12 hits to the Huskies' six, with all but one starter recording at least one base hit.
With the series sweep, Cal moves into a tie for second place in the Pac-10 with the No. 23 Bruins (19-12, 9-3), which took two of three from No. 20 Arizona (23-13, 5-7). No. 9 Oregon State (27-7, 8-1), which swept No. 17 Stanford (16-12, 3-6) in Palo Alto this weekend, sits atop the conference standings.
The Bears will be back in action in Berkeley on Tuesday, April 19, when they play host to UC Davis at 2:30 PM.