The California baseball team won its eighth game in a row, and moved to a perfect 3-0 in Pac-12 play on Sunday, with a getaway-day win over Utah, downing the Utes 6-4 in a comeback victory at Spring Mobile Park in Salt Lake City.
Freshman starter Collin Monsour lasted just one inning, surrendering three hits and two runs in the bottom of the first, before reliever Ryan Wertenberger gave up three straight extra-base hits and two runs with two outs in the bottom of the second to stake Utah (8-9, 0-3 in the Pac-12) to a 4-0 lead.
The Bears (13-7, 3-0) roared back in the top of the third, leading off the inning with three straight singles, and thanks to a walk, a wild pitch and a passed ball, Cal pulled to within one with a three-spot.
After his initial shakiness, Wertenberger settled down to throw two scoreless innings, keeping Cal very much in it against the Pac-12’s worst defensive team.
A quartet of Bears relievers -- lefty Chris Muse-Fisher, Logan Scott, Kyle Porter and Trevor Hildenberger -- held the Utes scoreless for the next five innings, giving the Cal offense a chance to claw back.
With one out in the top of the sixth, right fielder Jacob Wark was able to reach first after a wild pitch on a swinging strike three. An RBI triple by sophomore third baseman Chris Paul evened things up at 4-4, but the Bears weren’t quite done.
Scott got into a peck of trouble in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single to A.J. Young and a walk to right fielder Tyler Relf, before being removed for soft-tossing Muse-Fisher. Muse-Fisher uncorked a wild pitch to Cody Scaggari, putting runners at the corners with one out. Scaggari tried to bunt home Tyler Yaggi -- aboard on a fielder’s choice – but instead saw Knapp field the bunt and tag out Yaggi trying to score, keeping the game tied. Muse-Fisher then induced a fly-out from junior Braden Anderson to end the inning and the last real Utes threat.
Cal took its first lead of the game in the top of the seventh, when a one-out double by freshman center fielder Devin Pearson was cashed in on a two-out RBI single from Devon Rodriguez -- his only hit of the day in five at-bats. Pearson, on the other hand, went 3-for-4 at the leadoff spot, with two runs and one RBI.
Redshirt freshman Brian Celsi-- who had seen sparing action this weekend due to an injured finger – came on as a defensive replacement for Grant Diede in left in the bottom of the seventh, and in the top of the ninth, came up with a one-out single off of hard-throwing reliever Nick Green. Junior Trey Nielsen then uncorked a wild throw to first to try and pick off the speedy Celsi, but instead saw him scamper to second. Pearson then delivered an RBI single to right for the final 6-4 margin.
While eight different Bears registered at least one base hit (11 hits total), Knapp was not among them, halting his season-long hitting streak at nine games.