A little more than a month ago, the Cal baseball team opened Pac-12 play by losing a weekend series to Oregon, only winning one of three matchups after a strong performance from starting pitcher Joey Matulovich. If you attempted to predict the Bears’ future Pac-12 play based on this opening weekend, however, you would’ve been dead wrong. Cal has shown tons of fight this year in some of the most pressured situations, something it’ll look to continue this weekend.
On Friday, Cal will continue Pac-12 play by traveling north to compete against Washington, as it attempts to win its fourth weekend series against a conference opponent.
“We’re all really excited to compete this weekend, it’s always fun to go somewhere new, especially for the younger guys,” said infielder Preston Grand Pre. “When we’re on the road, we to try to simplify the game and just try to make it our own atmosphere.”
But the Bears will need to shake off their last performance against San Francisco if they want any shot of continuing the weekend streak. Cal hardly played up to its ability Tuesday when it traveled into the city to compete against the Dons. In the first three innings, the inexperience of Cal’s freshman starting pitcher, Rogelio Reyes, was on full display. His day eventually ended in the third inning after he allowed five earned runs off six hits in 2.2 innings of pitching.
All of this put his team in a hole that it never recovered from. After originally acquiring a 1-0 first-inning lead, the Bears went scoreless until the eighth, squandering every opportunity they had to gain traction. Unlike Cal, Washington will enter this series with two-straight wins in its back pocket.
Washington proved Tuesday that there’s plenty of fight in the bark of a Husky, shutting down cross-town rival Seattle with a final score of 7-4. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Washington will be coming to the plate with plenty of power.
At the top, leading the pack is junior Joey Morgan, who has acquired a total of 46 hits and a batting average of .359 in the process. And he’s far from the only hitter producing at the plate. Senior MJ Hubbs follows closely behind with 43 hits and a .341 batting average. But these impressive numbers don’t tell the full story, as some of these hits have come in the most crucial moments.
The full fight of the Huskies was on display Tuesday in their last matchup against Seattle. With the scored tied 4-4 heading into the ninth inning, Washington knew that it was now or never to produce at the plate.
It all began with a walk, as sophomore AJ Graffanino was able to keep a great eye on the ball and not take the bait on bad pitches.
With a runner on base, the Huskies then came through when it mattered most. Senior Jack Meggs would advance the runner to third after producing a hit down center field. Hubbs was up to bat next, and the Huskies placed him in the perfect situation to be the bat that mattered.
Seattle reliever Zach Wolf responded by bringing the heat, taking the battle straight to Hubbs and grabbing the advantage with a 2-2 count, on the verge of collecting his team’s first out of the day. Only a strike away, Hubbs was able to come through clutch when it mattered most and singled down the right field. This precious run put Washington ahead in the matchup, 5-4, after Graffanino came around to score, beginning a rally that would see the Huskies score two more runs in the inning before it was all over.
Washington will look to bring this same amount of energy when it welcomes Cal into Husky ballpark. And with a loss in its rearview mirror, Cal will do the opposite, doing what it can to forget its last performance.
With conference play more than halfway done, the Bears don’t have much longer to make a name for themselves in the conference. And with the playoffs quickly approaching, now’s the time for Cal to fight and prove it wants its season to continue.