In the majors, the life of a back-end-of-the-rotation starter is unglamorous. You grab your glove, jog out to the mound and eat up five or six innings — throwing just well enough to give your team a chance to win the game.
But the unglamorous life isn’t for freshman Rogelio Reyes. If being a fourth starter was ever considered sexy, he’s definitely bringing it back.
Slotting behind the trio of Tanner Dodson, Jared Horn and Joey Matulovich in the rotation, Reyes has silently been making a name for himself early in the season. His pitches were downright unhittable in Cal’s 7-1 blowout of Minnesota, putting on a showcase after initially allowing a leadoff triple to start the contest.
Following an RBI flyout to score the runner from third, Reyes struck out the next two batters to end the inning and went on to retire the next six. He only allowed one more hit in his five frame outing — a leadoff single in the fourth — while striking out five.
“I was able to locate my fastball. I had my curveball working, my changeup working. I was able to execute those pitches,” Reyes said.
Because Cal’s offense came alive in three-run bursts in the third and seventh innings, Reyes didn’t need to be perfect. But that didn’t stop him from trying. A hit-and-run scored freshman Cameron Eden from first thanks to a Jeffrey Mitchell, Jr. double. Third baseman Denis Karas then followed Mitchell with an RBI double of his own. Tanner Dodson — serving as the Bears’ designated hitter — hit a sacrifice fly to plate to finish the scoring.
Cal also received a single run in the sixth from Dodson on a booming solo shot to right field. Although the sophomore pitcher has had trouble making consistent contact with the ball this season, when he does, it goes far. In 14 games as the DH, Dodson is slugging .476 with a pair of dingers and four doubles.
While Cal ended the night with a hefty seven runs on 13 hits, centerfielder Jonah Davis struggled some at the plate. Although he recorded a hit, he left three runners stranded in four at-bats. Second baseman Anthony Walters, who went hitless, also stranded a pair.
“Some of our guys had difficulties with runners in scoring position but that’s just age. We’re young, we have a lot of immature at-bats,” said head coach David Esquer. “But we’ve done a good job of getting runners on base and creating opportunities for the last four or five games.”
Closing the game was, once again, Vaughn. Not only a threat with the bat, Vaughn threw a stress-free ninth inning to conclude his two-hit night.
“He profiles as someone who we might use in the back end of some games, whether it’s the eighth or ninth inning, maybe leading up to Erik Martinez,” Esquer said. “We try to give him a little bit more each time but it’s a big responsibility, the places we put him in.”
Chris Tril is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].