Junior second baseman and reigning conference player of the year Tony Renda gave No. 21 California a 2-0 lead with a two-run homer in the top of the fifth inning, but the Bears couldnt pull out a series win over Nebraska, yielding eight runs in the bottom of the fifth in a 9-5 loss to the Cornhuskers in the final game of a four-game series at Hawks Field in Lincoln. Cal (11-4)split the series, 2-2, winning Friday's contest, 11-8 in 11 innings; losing Saturday, 12-5; and shutting out the Cornhuskers, 4-0, Sunday.
Renda finished Monday's game 3-for-5 with two RBI, and is now hitting .385 on the season. Senior right fielder Danny Oh was 2-for-3 with a two-run single in the sixth inning.
Junior left fielder Darrel Matthews went 2-for-3, and junior Vince Brunocame up with a pinch hit RBI single in the top of the sixth, that scored sophomore first baseman Andrew Knapp, who had led off the frame with his team-leading eighth double of the season.
After Renda had given the Bears their 2-0 lead, Cal's sophomore left-hander Michael Theofanopoulosonce again became his own worst enemy, after cruising through the first five innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Theofanopoulos issued a bases-loaded walk, a three-run triple and an RBI single. Theofanopoulos fell to to 0-2 after going 4.1 innings, allowing four hits, five earned runs and three walks, while striking out three. Sophomore right-hander Trevor Hildenberger relieved Theofanopoulos and ended up giving up a three-run homer following a Bear fielding error.
Nebraska later added an insurance run in the seventh inning off of sophomore right-hander Michael Lowden.
Junior third baseman Mitch came alive over the weekend, going 8-for-14 (.571) in the series with two doubles, two home runs and four RBI. Matthews was 8-for-20 (.400) with three RBI, and senior catcher Chadd Krist and Oh had seven hits apiece in the series.
"It was a good series in a regional atmosphere," said Cal head coach David Esquer. "Nebraska is a regional caliber team and we played them tough. We gave them too much today, but it was a positive series on the whole for us."
Cal will next open Pac-12 play hosting Oregon State (11-5), March 16-18, at Evans Diamond. Game times are 2:30 p.m. Friday, March 16; 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17 and 12 p.m. Sunday, March 18.