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Cal adjusts, trounces Cougars in Astros Classic

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HOUSTON -- After losing its first two games over the weekend at Minute Maid Park, California batters took a different hitting approach on Sunday against the Houston Cougars.

Instead of trying to go for the home run, the Bears took the make-contact approach. It worked. Boosted by 20 hits, California routed Houston, 13-2, in the final day of the Astros Foundation College Classic.

"We made adjustments. We were hitting the ball lower," said Cal catcher Andrew Knapp, who along with Brenden Farney, had four hits. "We weren't trying to go as deep as much. We were hitting balls on the ground, base hits. Not trying to hit home runs.

"Earlier in the week, I was trying to be a little too big. When you're playing in a [Major League] park like this, you want to perform your best. So today I tried to mellow down a bit and see some pitches."

In Cal's losses to Baylor (9-0) and top-ranked North Carolina (11-5) at the classic, Knapp was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in both games. Despite not looking to homer on Sunday, he did, driving a ball into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Knapp scored three runs and drove in three.

Cal starter Collin Monsour (1-0) was solid in 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run and five hits. The right-hander was finding the plate and moving his fastball effectively.

Houston (8-3) didn't look like the team that was coming off impressive wins against Texas A&M (7-6) and Baylor (15-4). None of the Cougars' six pitchers went more than 2 2/3 innings with starter Daniel Poncedeleon (0-2) taking the loss. Kyle Kirk and Justin Montemayor had two hits apiece for the Cougars and center fielder Landon Appling made three outstanding catches.

Chris Paul had three hits and three RBIs for Cal (5-6), which had two four-run innings and a three-run inning.

"The same pitches we were hitting today, we were missing the other days," said Cal coach David Esquer. "We just played a better ballgame."

Richard Dean is a contributor to

Houston Astros