BERKELEY, Cal. -- In a dramatic finish to a thrilling game, sophomore center fielder Aaron Knapp knocked in the game-winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to give California a 5-4 victory against No. 10 Arizona State on Saturday night at Evans Diamond.
Junior left fielder Mitchell Kranson led off the ninth with a double down the right field line and then ASU intentionally walked freshman shortstop Preston Grand Pre. The Sun Devils were able to get a couple of outs on a failed sacrifice bunt attempt and a ground out, before Knapp was able to seal the win against ASU, scoring Grand Pre.
It was Cal’s (28-15, 14-9) fourth win against a top-10 ranked opponent this season and gives the Bears an opportunity to capture the series versus the Sun Devils (29-14, 14-6).
Freshman Brett Cumberland got the game’s scoring started with a home run off ASU starter Ryan Kellogg (7.2 innings, eight hits, four runs, one walk, four strikeouts) in the second inning. ASU came back with three runs in the top of the third off Bears’ starter Ryan Mason (6.1 innings, 10 hits, four runs, no walks, one strikeout) on an RBI double by Johnny Sewald and a two-run double by Jake Peevyhouse.
Cal came back to tie the game, 3-3, when Knapp had a one-out single and scored on junior right fielder Devin Pearson’s triple down the left field line. Paul followed with an RBI ground out to score Pearson.
Pearson came up with another big hit in the sixth inning with a lead-off home run to give David Esquer’s squad a 4-3 lead. The Sun Devils later tied it, 4-4, in the top of the seventh when Ryan Lillard scored on Chris Muse-Fisher’s wild pitch.
Besides Knapp’s game-winning hit, another key play of the game was the pitching of freshman right-hander Erik Martinez, who was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning by striking out ASU’s Andrew Snow. Sophomore right-hander Alex Schick ended up earning the win by pitching the ninth with no hits and a strikeout to improve to 2-1.