When the Cal baseball team opened the season last weekend, the expectations weren’t very high. The inexperienced Bears were coming off a year in which they not only lost 11 graduating seniors, but also seven players to the MLB draft. But this didn’t stop them from being competitive, as they were able to win an opening season series against an always tough Cal Poly.
This weekend, the Bears will have a far larger test on their hands when they travel east to compete against No.11 Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will enter this game with tons of confidence, as they are coming off a game Tuesday in which they demolished New Mexico State in a 16-1 blowout.
“They were the best team we played last year and they’re very good this year,” said Cal head coach David Esquer. “So we need to continue working on our defense and help out our pitching,”
Cal’s hitters will go up against a Texas Tech bullpen stacked with talent, which was on full display in Tuesday’s victory against the Aggies. Texas Tech utilized a total of five different pitchers to secure the win, with freshman John Henry Gonzalez starting the game. Gonzalez dominated in his first collegiate start of his career, only allowing 1 ER in 5.1 innings of pitching. The Texas Tech relievers played just as well, brilliantly securing the home blowout win.
Freshman Jacob Patterson entered the game in the seventh inning and produced three outs, striking out a batter in the process. Freshmen Caleb Kilian and Andrew Davis closed out the game, allowing no hits and striking out a batter a piece for the remainder of the contest.
Still, the Bears won’t enter the series intimidated, and they will need to play to their full potential if they want any shot of winning yet another series. Sophomore outfielder Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. is coming off one of the best games in his career, finishing Sunday with three hits and four RBI.
The hitters of Cal will need to produce once again this Friday in order to help sophomore starting pitcher Tanner Dodson secure his first victory of the season.
But he’ll need to play drastically better than he did in his first start last Friday, when he allowed seven hits and five runs in just 3.1 innings. Dodson began falling apart in the third inning after he previously gave up no runs and only gave up one hit.
“Texas Tech is entering with a formidable lineup, so Tanner will need to pitch one of the best games of his career,” Esquer said. “But in the end gaining experience like this will serve him better in the future.”
The rest of Cal’s roster will also be excited to get back on the field this weekend. One of the freshman starting pitchers looking forward to return to the mound is freshman Jared Horn. He surprised the team in his first collegiate start by only allowing one run through four innings of work. But he was unable to secure his first win after giving up Cal’s lead in the fifth.
The Bears surprised many last week when they opened the season by beating Cal Poly in an opening series. But more fans will be surprised this weekend if they can win another series against one of the best teams in the nation: Texas Tech.
Alex Quintana covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected].