Cal baseball surrenders early deficit, falls to Santa Clara


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Same story, different ending.

For the second midweek game in a row, Cal’s starter was tagged for a first-pitch, leadoff home run and could not get out of the second inning.

For the second midweek game in a row, Cal surrendered a bomb on a 3-0 count early in the game.

But unlike last week, the Bears could not get their bats going on the chilly Tuesday evening, as Santa Clara (16-18) bested Cal (21-13) at Evans Diamond, 6-4.

Broncos junior John Cresto kicked off the first with a leadoff shot, before sophomore catcher Jake MacNichols sent a 3-0 offering over the left field wall for a three-run tater in the second.

“We were able to survive the last one, but you just can’t play that way and expect to win. You can’t give up those runs early and expect to win consistently,” said Cal head coach Mike Neu. “We put our backs up against the wall.”

The Bears 3-4 combo, sophomore Andrew Vaughn and junior Jonah Davis, continued their incredible campaign, going a combined 7 for 10 and hitting both of Cal’s big flies on the evening.

The story of the game was the lack of support those two received as the rest of the lineup went a combined 1 for 25 thanks to an incredible performance from the Broncos’ bullpen.

“When your goal is to go to a regional, these are the games you really have to be prepared and gotta be able to win them, especially at home,” Neu said.

Santa Clara sophomore Michael Praszker (1-1) picked up the win with three stellar hitless innings after freshman starter Cade Negley surrendered three earned runs in the first three innings.

After Praszker, three Broncos would pitch an inning each in the late innings, giving up one combined run to secure the victory.

Cal sophomore starter Rogelio Reyes (3-2) suffered his second loss of the season. Reyes was pulled three batters into the second and only recorded three outs, but the damage was done.

Sophomore Arman Sabouri and junior Joey Matulovich each pitched four innings of relief with neither giving up an earned run. The duo combined to strike out 11 Broncos in their eight innings of work.

“They did a really nice job and kept us in the game and that was all we could really ask for,” Neu said. “If we get those guys going, I think that’ll be a big asset to our bullpen.”

A pair of errors in the infield led to two unearned runs for the Broncos in the fifth, which proved to be the difference.

A booted ground ball to freshman third baseman Sam Wezniak put a runner on with one out. Two batters later, miscommunication on a bunt attempt resulted in Vaughn’s errant throw to first and a runner scoring.

The Bears’ two biggest bats came to play, however. With Vaughn aboard in the third, Davis launched his ninth home run of the year — a no-doubter into Edwards Stadium that cut the lead to one.

Not to be outdone by the cleanup man, Vaughn sent one over the left field wall in the seventh for his team-leading 16th round tripper. That cut the lead to two, but it would be the final scoring play of the game.

Broncos redshirt senior Steven Wilson struck out one in a scoreless ninth to record his first save of the season.

“Overall, we just played flat in a game where we can’t play flat. It’s disappointing, for sure. It’s one that you’d like to play better, but we’ve just got to move forward,” Neu said.

Leo Xie covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @leoxie_24