No. 1 Oregon State sweeps Cal baseball to open Pac-12 play

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Zichen Zhao/File

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When the No. 1 team in the country comes to town, things can go one of two ways — as planned or an unexpected shocker. Despite fighting valiantly, the Cal baseball team was unable to generate the latter, suffering a three-game sweep at the hands of No. 1 Oregon State.

Although this was not the start the Bears envisioned kicking off Pac-12 play, there are several key positive takeaways from this weekend. For one, sophomore Andrew Vaughn continues to produce in the heart of the order. Against what’s considered one of the best pitching staffs in the entire country, the sophomore went 5 for 11 with one home run and a double.

Additionally, Cal’s pitching has seen a marked improvement from the beginning of the year. While at times the bullpen has struggled to hold down the opposition, on the whole, the entire staff has become more reliable.

Friday

On an overcast Friday evening, the Bears took the diamond hoping to preserve their undefeated record at home. Sophomore starter Jared Horn turned in another dominant start, yielding two earned runs over six innings, despite a tough fourth inning that was exacerbated by a costly throwing error.

In the fourth inning, Cal got its offense started when junior Jonah Davis doubled down the left field line to bring in Vaughn. The Bears would tack on one more run in the frame behind an RBI single by freshman Sam Wezniak.

After two shutout innings from senior Zayne Patino, the Bears attempted a comeback in the eighth, trailing, 4-2. After Vaughn singled to left field and junior Tanner Dodson doubled to right, senior Korey Lee grounded out to second base, cutting the deficit to one with just one out.

Cal’s comeback was not to be, however, as both Davis and Wezniak were unable to bring home Dodson, who was left stranded on third base. The Beavers wrapped things up in the ninth to hand the Bears their first home defeat of the season, 4-3.

Saturday

Rain plagued Evans Diamond for a second consecutive day, but both teams persisted after a brief weather delay. Cal received another dominating start, this time from junior Aaron Shortridge, who turned in a six-inning outing, giving up just two runs on eight hits.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bears found themselves in one of baseball’s most tense situation — batting with two outs and the bases loaded. Davis fought his way to a full count and eventually drew a walk to bring in junior Tyrus Greene, giving the team a 3-2 lead.

The lead lasted just a few minutes.

In the very next inning, after a one out walk, Oregon State sophomore Adley Rutschman hit a two-run bomb to dead center to retake the lead.

The Beavers would break the game wide-open in the eighth inning behind a four spot, giving their fans in attendance — who had traveled well — an eye on a potential sweep.

At the end of a long, cold and rainy contest, the Bears fell for the second straight game, 10-4.

Sunday

In the series finale, Cal turned to senior Matt Ladrech to stop the bleeding. While Ladrech gave up only two earned runs in 3.1 innings, a four-error afternoon from the defense mired any attempt for the Bears to mount any resistance.

On the day, Cal’s offense mustered four runs — but only one against sophomore starter Grant Gambrell, who was masterful over 5.1 innings.

The Bears’ lone bright spot on the afternoon was a two-run blast by junior Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. in the ninth inning.

Thereafter, however, Oregon State sophomore closer Jake Mulholland would come in and shut down the late rally, earning his second save of the series.

With Pac-12 play just beginning, Cal will hope to put this series behind them and find ways to get the job done against weaker oppositions.

 

Praveen Kuruppu covers baseball / men’s golf. Contact him at [email protected].