May 31, 2008


Matusz outduels Ross as San Diego stops California


By Abbey Mastracco


LONG BEACH, Calif. — Zeros were strewn across the Blair Field scoreboard until the bottom of the sixth when California’s Tyson Ross dropped a pitcher’s duel to San Diego’s Brian Matusz, as Josh Romanski crossed the plate, scoring the first run and decisive run in the No. 2-seeded Torero’s 5-0 route over No. 3-seeded California.


A costly walk by Ross put Romanksi on, who scored on a two-out double straight up the center by Sean Nichol, Friday night in front of 1,365 at Blair Field. Matusz (12-2) tossed his third complete-game shutout of the season. The right-hander blanked 10, and now stands at No. 1 on San Diego’s all-time strikeout list with 296, overtaking Gary Myron. With 141 on the season, Matusz also now stands at No. 1 in the country.

“It was one of those outings where you’ve got to tip your hat to him,” said Cal head coach David Esquer.


“I can’t say enough about Brian Matusz,” said San Diego head coach Rich Hill. “The guy pitches in front of general managers and owners of baseball teams, and he’s locked in. He has a huge ability to detach from any consequence of what’s going on around him and deal.”


Matusz was nearly unhittable throughout his entire outing. The right-hander worked a mix of breaking balls and a cut-fastball to scatter just three hits and only one that went for extra bases.


“It’s like he works backwards,” said Blake Smith, the Golden Bears’ right fielder. “As a hitter, you’re standing in the box wondering ‘What is this guy going to throw next?’ He throws a lot of strikes, and he throws four quality pitches for strikes.”


Former Team USA teammates Ross and Matusz found themselves entrenched in a fierce duel right from the get-go. Matusz’s balls blew past hitter after hitter as he tallied six strikeouts within the first four innings, and Ross’s sidearm breaking balls went nowhere but up — straight up.


“Cal’s a very tough team, I knew that coming in today,” Matusz said. “Things were working well, I had all four pitches working for me today. I knew that if I just kept working at the knees everything would be fine.”


Ross (7-4) failed to hold on and fell apart in the seventh inning, giving up four runs (one earned) on five hits.


Logan Gelbrich hit a ball back to the left field warning track that popped out of Charlie Cutlers glove for a two-base error to lead off. Gelbrich was then advanced on a sacrifice bunt, Ross gave up back-to-back doubles to Jose Valerio and Nick McCoy to take a 3-0 lead over the Golden Bears. The Toreros kept the inning alive with a two-out rally, taking three straight singles off Ross, and walking in a run, as Kevin Hansen was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.


Sean Nichol led the Toreros offensively going 3 for 4 with an RBI, followed by Romanksi, who finished 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI.


Although Hansen went 0-for-3 with a hit by a pitch, the second baseman managed to steal the show with stellar defense. Hansen saved the shutout in the sixth by gunning down to home with one out, and robbing at least three Golden Bear hitters of base hits, once by making a fantastic high jump to grab a Brett Jackson blooper in midair.


“I have no idea if I’ve ever jumped that high before,” Hansen said. “I jumped a little early so I was a little worried about it until I felt the ball go in the back of my glove. I clutched it and knew I stayed in the air long enough.”


The Toreros will advance to the winner’s bracket and play the winner of tonight’s match up between Long Beach State and Fresno State. This is the first time in school history San Diego has played in the winner’s match on a Saturday. San Diego will play at 6 p.m., while Cal will play the loser of the second game at 2 p.m.