Cal baseball extends winning streak to six by beating Baylor, USD

Patrick Chong/Staff

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Get out a broom, because the Cal baseball team (8-2) just pulled off its second consecutive tournament sweep, this time at the University of San Diego Tournament this past weekend.

After beating Baylor (5-6) on Saturday, the Bears beat Baylor again on Monday as well as No. 24 San Diego (8-2) and are now on a six-game win streak. The Bears’ games on Sunday were canceled on account of the rain.

In both games on Monday, Cal scored early, picking up two runs in the second inning against Baylor and five runs in the third inning against USD. Cal would eventually go on to beat Baylor 5-3 and USD 5-2. Sophomore Ryan Mason (2-0) and senior Kyle Porter (1-0) got the wins, respectively.

The bullpen again showed its power, after Cal freshman pitcher Alex Schick — a San Diego native — had to be pulled after 2.1 innings against Baylor after loading the bases in the third inning and walking five. Pitcher Porter also got into a bit of trouble against USD in the sixth inning.

Cal head coach David Esquer said the team is lucky to have a pretty full bullpen of guys they can rely upon. Still, Esquer wants his starting pitchers to pitch into the later innings.

Esquer has also seen a problem with runs scoring on wild pitches, something he wants the team to work on fixing.

“We’ve got to pitch to the plate,” Esquer said.

While the starting pitching saw a bit of a setback, the hitting took huge steps forward.

The Bears saw some crucial hits from players later in the lineup who hadn’t been producing as much. Against Baylor, junior Brenden Farney and sophomore Mitchell Kranson both had two RBIs, while junior Chris Paul (two doubles) and sophomore Nick Halamandaris both had two hits. Those four players batted fifth through eighth in the lineup.

“We’re trying to see if opportunities can develop down (the lineup) because there’s got to be a balance,” Esquer said.

The top of the lineup — sophomore Devin Pearson, senior Vince Bruno, redshirt senior Devon Rodriguez and senior Derek Campbell — has been incredibly productive.

In last weekend’s tournament at Auburn, Esquer switched up the lineup, moving Pearson into the leadoff spot and Campbell into the cleanup spot, which has really seemed to work for the Bears. Pearson has been key for the team, finding himself on base (from which he is able to use his speed and steal), and Campbell has found himself in key moments, able to drive in runs.

Bruno, who suffered from injury last year, has also been on fire this season, leading the team with a .455 batting average.

“They’ve just figured out the process,” Esquer said. “Everyone has just been hitting really well.”

Esquer has said he thinks the Bears have one of the toughest schedules this year, especially with so many games against the very tough Pac-12.

The Bears will face their first Pac-12 opponent Tuesday when they play across-the-bay rival Stanford. Stanford (4-7) currently has one of the worst records in the Pac-12, but, as Esquer said, “Stanford is Stanford.”

“We’ve been playing really good teams,” Esquer said, “which is only going to make us better.”

Shannon Carroll covers baseball. Contact her at [email protected].