Cal let one get away Friday night.
The Bears wasted a bases-loaded, no-outs situation in the bottom of the 10th inning, and eventually lost to Arizona State 6-5 in 11 innings in the opening game of a three-game series at Cal’s Evans Diamond.
Presumably, Cal is still in good shape for a postseason berth, but this loss will be difficult to get past.
Cal (29-18, 14-11 Pac-12) tied the game 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth on Andrew Vaughn’s 15th home run of the season, and he got the Bears’ 10th-inning rally started with a leadoff single.
After Korey Lee hit a well-placed weak grounder that got past the shortstop for a single, both players advanced a base on a wild pitch by Arizona State reliever RJ Dabovich, putting runners at second and third.
Max Flower walked to load the bases with nobody out, at which point the Sun Devils (36-14, 15-10) brought one of the outfielder into the infield to give them five infielders. It paid off as Darren Baker and Sam Wezniak both hit grounders to the left side that were turned into forceouts at home, and Grant Holman struck out to end the inning,
Not only did Cal waste the opportunity, but the Bears lost their best hitter in the process, as Hance Smith had pinch-run for Vaughn when he was at third with no one out.
In the top of the 11th, Arizona State’s Carter Aldrete hit a one-out double off Rogelio Reyes before Reyes got the second out and faced Spencer Torkelson.
Torkelson already had three hits, including a homer, but the Bears opted to pitch to him with first base open. On a 3-2 pitch, with Aldrete running, Torkelson hit a hard shot that bounced before striking third baseman Smith in the chest and rolling out to left field for a single.
Aldrete scored easily to make it 6-5. Quentin Selma had been playing third base for Cal in the 10 previous innings, but when first baseman Vaughn was removed from the game, Selma moved to first base in the 11th, with Smith taking over at third. Whether Selma would have made the play on Torkelson’s hard shot is speculation.
ASU's Brady Corrigan struck out the side in the bottom of the 11th.
The loss ruined a strong start by Cal's Arman Sabouri, who allowed two runs in his six innings.
It also negated a three-run home run hit by Wezniak in the second inning that game Cal a 3-0 lead.
Four home runs were hit in the game, with Vaughn and Wezniak going deep for Cal and Torkelson and Aldrete smacking home runs for the Sun Devils.
Cal will try to bounce back in Saturday’s second game if it gets a chance. Rain is expected both Saturday and Sunday, so it is unclear whether Cal and Arizona State will face each other again this weekend.
On the bright side for Cal were two outstanding defensive plays on Friday.
Cal right fielder Max Flower made lunging catch in foul territory in the 10th in which he flipped over the bullpen fence while making the grab.
Shortstop Wezniak made an odd putout when he leaped for a line drive, knocked the ball up in the air with his glove, then had the ball bounce off his head before he recovered to grab the ball before it landed for the out.