On Tuesday, the Cal baseball team competed in one of the biggest games of its season, traveling south to compete against rival Stanford. The Bears came in with plenty of assertiveness after sweeping Pac-12 foe Washington State in their last series. The aggression was on display early, but the Bears were unable to keep it going and seal the win.
“We’re just not good enough yet to win those games on the road against quality opponents,” said Cal head coach David Esquer.
Cal looked like the one in control early on, striking first in the bottom of the second inning by scoring two runs against the Cardinal. A pair of of freshmen, Cameron Eden and Andrew Vaughn, continued its productive season by collecting one RBI apiece and making the score 2-0.
But if you live by young players, you often die by young players, as another pair of young freshmen pitchers completely fell apart in the bottom of the fourth. The Bears would eventually give up eight runs in the inning, creating a deficit they would never recover from.
Freshman pitcher Arman Sabouri stepped onto the mound to replace freshman Rogelio Reyes, after Reyes gave up a Stanford run that made the score 2-1, with Cal still leading. The Cardinal responded by exposing the inexperience of Sabouri, continuing to rally in the inning. He quickly gave up his team’s lead and evened the game.
The barrage of Stanford RBIs began with an single from freshman Maverick Handley, who stepped up to the plate with senior Jack Klein in scoring position. Handley delivered, striking a single to right center field to give his team a 3-2 lead.
The bleeding continued just two batters later when sophomore Nico Hoerner stepped up to bat. He continued the streak of singles by placing the ball into left center field, allowing Handley and freshman Andrew Daschbach to touch home plate and make the score 5-2. Another Cardinal run was made after junior Quinn Brodey singled through the third baseman to allow junior Matt Winaker to score.
The offensive explosion finally ended after senior Ian Lutz came into the game to replace Sabouri. He allowed two runs himself before ending the inning from a fly out by Dunlap, with the Bears now down 8-2. In the end, the Bears were unable to recover from the fourth-inning Cardinal rally, eventually losing by a score of 8-4.
But the Bears will need to move on quickly, as they’ll face another Pac-12 opponent this Friday when Arizona State walks into Evans Diamond.
Like the Bears, the Sun Devils are entering this game with a lost to their rival, Arizona, last Tuesday. The Wildcats got the better of Arizona State by accumulating 11 runs off 11 hits, getting help from their bullpen in only allowing two Sun Devils to score.
Still, Arizona State possess plenty of talent. Freshman Lyle Lin has impressed everyone this season by leading the team with 38 hits. But leading is something that comes natural to Lin, as in the 2016 MLB draft, he became the first Taiwanese-born player to ever be selected before choosing to play college ball.
And production at the plate doesn’t stop there for the Sun Devils. Sophomore Gage Canning has notched a total of 30 hits this season, with three of these hits coming in the last game. He has also led the team with four three-hit games this year.
“We need to have a short memory and tighten up our defense a little bit,” Esquer said. “Overall I’m excited to see how we pitch, how we play defense and how our hitters respond to a good Arizona State team.”
It’s clear that Cal’s bullpen will need to bounce back if it wants any shot of proving itself in the division, currently sitting at 4-6 in conference play. The freshman Bears will need to prove they are up to the task this weekend.
Alex Quintana covers baseball. Contact him at