Cal starter goes 8 2/3 for the win, while closer gets one-pitch save
Cal’s Trevor Hutchinson threw almost 120 pitches on Friday against UCLA but couldn’t quite finish the game. Teammate Matt Brown needed just one.
Hutchinson threw 8 2/3 innings for his seventh win of the season, and Brown slammed the door by getting UCLA pinch-hitter Casey Janssen to pop out to end the game on the first pitch he threw for a 5-3 Cal win.
Hutchinson got the win on a day when he wasn’t at his best, battling through the first six innings before settling down to retire nine Bruins in a row. He gave up runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings but limited the damage to just one run in each inning.
“Trevor wasn’t his sharpest today, but he competed well and gave us a solid effort,” Cal head coach Dave Esquer said. “Whatever he has on any given day, he can find a way to get through.”
The Bears (21-14, 4-3 Pac-10) broke the game open with three runs in the fifth inning. Jeff Dragicevich started things off with a one-out single off of UCLA starter Chris Cordeiro, going to third base on a David Weiner base-knock. Weiner took off on the next pitch and UCLA (13-18, 0-1) catcher Josh Arhart threw the ball into center field, scoring Dragicevich for a 3-2 Cal lead.
After a Conor Jackson groundout and Carson White walk, catcher John Baker came through with a two-out RBI single to right. David Nicholson followed with a single up the middle to score White for a 5-2 lead.
The Bears got the win without an offensive contribution from Jackson, as the Pac-10’s leading hitter went 0-for-4. Weiner had a big game with a home run in the fourth inning to go with his RBI single, and Baker got two hits after missing the last 11 games with an broken hand. Dragicevich was 3-for-3.
“This might be the first time we’ve won without Conor doing something, because he’s been hitting in every game,” Esquer said. “It’s big for us to win without him carrying the load. We obviously need the rest of the guys to create some runs.”
Hutchinson would give up just one more run, a solo homer by Matt Sharp in the sixth inning, and it looked as if he would get the complete game when he set down the first two Bruins in the ninth and had two strikes on Sharp. But the UCLA leftfielder hit a single to right and Esquer, mindful of his starter’s high pitch count, immediately made the move to Brown, who led the Pac-10 in saves last year as a freshman.
“Trevor came so far, I didn’t want to put him in the position to lose the game,” Esquer said. “I’d hate to have him throw his 120th pitch and make a mistake that cost us the ballgame.”
Hutchinson said that while he would have liked to finish the game, he understood why he was removed.
“You’d always like to get a complete game, but I had a pretty high pitch count,” he said. “It’s the coach’s decision and I wouldn’t question it.”
Brown did the job quickly for his sixth save of the season. With such a quick outing, the sophomore should be available for the next two games with the Bruins, leaving Esquer with a fully-stocked bullpen for the weekend.
“That’s very big for us, because UCLA is very capable with the bats,” Esquer said. “I anticipate the weekend games being close just like this one, so it’s nice to have all my options open.”