April 14, 2012
BERKELEY -- Despite committing three errors -- the most the Cal baseball team has committed with righty Matt Flemer on the mound -- the senior righty was able to pick up the slack. The Bears have tallied a conference-worst 67 fielding miscues on the season, a far cry from last season, when they were one of the best fielding teams in the conference, with 63 errors in 61 games.
"At that point, it was the Flemer Show," smiled head coach David Esquer, as he spoke of Flemer's dramatic ninth-inning dive for the second out. "He was going to have to have a big hand in ending it, because our supporting cast isn't as supportive as we need them to be."
-- Junior second baseman Tony Renda is now 5-for-7 in the series, with two doubles, a home run, two runs and four RBI. Junior designated hitter Vince Bruno is 4-for-9 with two doubles, four RBI and two runs. In the first two games, the top three hitters in the lineup have combined to go 11-for-23 (.478) with five runs scored.
"I just think that, once my teammates get everything going, it's such a positive atmosphere," Bruno said. "We've been down in this series. It's not like we've been up the whole time, but, even then, our confidence stays up. We know we can hit the guys. We know we have good hitters. We know we have good defense and pitching. Once the confidence starts, that's when the hitting starts. Once you get in a rut, and you don't trust the guy in front of you or the guy behind you, that's when you really start to press, but now that I trust Derek [Campbell] and I trust everyone on the team, everyone's kind of going, it makes my job really easy."
-- True freshman shortstop Chris Paul is 3-for-7 on the series, benefitting from a few bloops and squirts that have fallen in for hits, including a bunt single on Friday that stuck in the grass like a perfect chip shot. Paul came into the series batting just .189 in 18 games, but is now hitting .217.
"He's always been a hitter," Esquer said. "He was described when he came here as the best hitter out of Orange County last year, and hey, sometimes it takes time before you can get the game to feel like it used to feel. It takes a while, but one of the most important things is to be able to stay on the field. That's how you grow up. You play well enough to stay on the field. That's what he's doing. He's playing well enough for us to keep putting him out there."
-- The Bears enjoyed a large crowd of nearly 700 spectators on Saturday, and on the season, have drawn 6,282 fans to Evans Diamond in 13 home dates for a 483 average attendance. Last season, in 24 home dates, Cal drew 11,001 fans for a 458 average. The Bears have 12 home games left, and are on pace to draw 12,078 this season. On Saturday, the crowd included several members of the Cal basketball team, Cal Athletics Hall-of-Famer Bob Milano and the parents of program alumnus Tyson Ross, who will be called back up to the Oakland Athletics early next week to serve as the fifth starter. Before going down with an oblique injury last season, Ross went 3-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 36.0 innings of work over nine appearances and six starts.
"It's been pretty amazing," Esquer said. "I almost feel like the people in the stands are stakeholders. They're the people that followed us and gave some money and did some things and they want to come and see what their investment is all about. We've had great crowds all year long, even on the Monday versus Stanford we had a great crowd, and we've had a couple Tuesday games that have been the best since I've been here. There's a lot of people interested, and I almost feel like they're stakeholders."