Cal looks to cut down Stanford in 2nd Matchup of Season

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One of the best feelings a college team can have comes the very second a historical conference rival is defeated. For the Cal baseball team, however, defeating Stanford is a feeling that hasn’t arrived this season. The Bears fell to the Cardinal, 8-4, in their last matchup earlier this month, forcing Cal to return home with yet another road loss.

But thankfully for the Bears, the baseball season is a long one, and this Tuesday they’ll have another shot to defeat their long-time rival. With a conference record of 8-7, the Bears will have little margin for error in Palo Alto if they want any shot of climbing the ranks in the conference.

Still, for Cal head coach David Esquer, it’s his team’s road record of 4-11 that’s most telling, not his squad’s performance in the Pac-12.

“It’s youth and inexperience, that’s what’s preventing us from really finding our best game on the road,” Esquer said. “That’s just one of the growing pains of being so young.”

This season’s earlier loss came despite Cal being the first team to make noise, scoring 2 runs in the top of the third inning. Freshman Max Flower got the inning off on the right track by singling up the middle of the field, beginning a rally that would eventually see him score. This came only two batters later when freshman Cameron Eden singled to the same area of the field, allowing Flower to turn the corner to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

With two outs in the inning, another freshman would again come through in the clutch, extending Cal’s lead. Freshman Andrew Vaughn gave the Bears a 2-0 lead after blasting an RBI double off the right-center wall, scoring Eden.

But nothing comes easy in Pac-12 rivalry games, a tough lesson the Bears were forced to learn just one inning later in the bottom of the fourth. Stanford batters led an absolute onslaught in the inning that allowed their team to score 8 straight runs, which was more than needed to pull off the victory. Stanford senior Alex Dunlap originally got the Cardinal on the board by lining an RBI hit to center field, allowing freshman Daniel Bakst to score to make it a 2-1 game.

All of Stanford’s batters got in on the action before the inning was all said and done, with hits coming from seven different batters. It’s these sort of offensive surges that Cal will need to watch out for the most when they meet again.

“We need to continue improving on the road, and to do that we’re going to have to pitch well,” Esquer said. “Our middle relief pitchers will probable pitch the majority of the game, and we’ll need to help them out with good defense.”

Junior Quinn Brodey is entering the leading Stanford in hits with 39, accumulating 28 RBI and a batting average of .302 in the process. But Brodey is far from the only Cardinal that has produced at the plate this year. Sophomore Nico Hoerner will also look to add to his impressive season, entering the game with 34 hits and 17 RBI, despite only accumulating a batting average of .260.

With a home series around the corner, the Bears will do everything in their power to return to Evans Diamond with a victory over their long-time Pac-12 rival.

Alex Quintana covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected].