As the opening bars of Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” slowly filled Evans Diamond, the Cal dugout rose up and headed to the fence. The players oh’d in unison with the lyrics as closer Erik Martinez took to the mound to secure Saturday night’s win for the Bears. As his walkout song suggests, his fastball blazed past the competition and struck out two to seal the game. Martinez’s stellar outing exemplified the series’ lights-out pitching that the Bears had struggled with early this season.
The No.12 Cal baseball team (5-2) punished Purdue (1-5) this weekend, sweeping the Boilermakers and re-establishing its dominance on the mound and in the box. This dominance was asserted right off the bat with the Bears’ 10-0 trampling of Purdue in the series opener Friday.
Cal starter Daulton Jefferies put on an impressive show for the dozens of MLB scouts that huddled behind home plate to take a look at the projected first-round draft pick. Their radar guns picked up a fastball that, not only regularly hit 93 MPH, but helped contribute to Jefferies’ eight-strikeout night. At the end of six, Jefferies had only allowed three hits and one walk.
The offense was fueled by two home runs which accounted for five of Cal’s 10. Devin Pearson’s two-run shot in the third inning ricocheted off the RSF in left field, while Brett Cumberland’s dong to right field sailed into neighboring Edwards Stadium. In addition to the longball, Preston Grand Pre hit a two RBI single off of Purdue starter Tanner Andrews in the second, with Denis Karas and Brian Celsi both hitting RBI singles in the eighth.
“We got a good hitting team — our whole nine is solid offensively,” Cumberland said. “Every pitcher you’re gonna see in college baseball is gonna be good but I just think we just have a really powerful offense.”
The control continued the next night as righty Ryan Mason took the bump for Cal on Saturday. While it might be hard to out-perform an All-American such as Jefferies, Mason did so with ease. Purdue could not figure out what to do with Mason’s arsenal, which resulted in 10 strikeouts over seven innings. His six hits allowed did not allot to any runs, as the Bears went on to eventually shut out the Boilermakers once again by a score of 4-0.
Cumberland once again showcased his bat, going 4-4 with two doubles and two RBI with yet another home run. Robbie Tenerowicz also blasted one out, with his first dinger of the season bouncing off the scoreboard in left-center field.
Matt Ladrech was the final Cal starter to dominate against Purdue. After giving up two early runs in the first inning Sunday, Ladrech settled down nicely and kept the Boilermakers off the board for the next five. After six innings of six-hit ball, Ladrech was able to head back to the dugout with a comfortable 12-2 lead.
The offense bailed out Ladrech’s early game mistakes in a big way, scoring a whopping eight runs in the bottom of the first. Purdue’s starting pitcher Gavin Downs could not retire a single batter, with six straight Bears batting before an out was recorded. After a Mitchell Kranson RBI double and a Brenden Farney RBI single, Karas busted it open 5-2 for Cal with a moon shot to left field. With Tanner Schumacher coming in for the ineffective Downs, Cal scored two more times in the inning while also batting around its lineup.
The Bears would go on to tack on several more crooked numbers throughout the game, scoring two runs in the fourth and three in the eighth. Purdue attempted a late inning comeback in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs off of reliever Jesse Kay. The last ditch effort failed, however, with Cal winning the game 15-5 in its first sweep of the season.
The Bears resurgence of hitting and pitching came at the right time, as they will be facing Michigan (5-2) at home Monday. Going into the Wolverines’ game Sunday against Santa Clara, the Michigan offense had put up a gaudy triple slash of .302/.386/.407 and a miniscule ERA of .88 in 51 innings. With no time off to rest, the Bears will need to pick up right where they left off and start swinging for the fences to take this quick one-game series in Michigan’s week long West Coast tour.
“It’s the fourth game in four days so it’ll be a challenge for us,” said Cal head coach David Esquer. “They’re a good team. They’re predicted to finish first in their league, it’s a power five conference so it’s going to be a great challenge.”