The Cal baseball team (19-19) and the University of San Francisco were two very different programs the last time they clashed. Last March, the Bears — then ranked No. 13 in the nation — were clear favorites heading into the midweek matchup against a Don squad that was boasting a paltry 7-18 record. Relying on small ball, San Francisco stole six bases and forced an error to take a 4-0 lead. But the Bears struck back with the long ball, swatting two home runs to finish off the Dons and take the game, 7-5.
Now, a little more than a year later, San Francisco has gotten the last laugh. The much-improved Dons team (22-20) took Cal pitchers deep twice and worked six walks to run away with a 7-2, Tuesday afternoon win. The loss brings Cal’s road record to an unsightly 4-13.
The Bears gave struggling freshman starter Rogelio Reyes some early leeway. In the first inning, freshman first baseman Andrew Vaughn knocked in his Pac-12-leading 44th RBI to score sophomore catcher Tyrus Greene from second base.
Reyes danced his way out of a potentially dangerous first frame after allowing back-to-back singles, but he couldn’t tango his way through the second. Following a leadoff single, the Dons’ slugging percentage leader and junior right fielder Brady Bate drove a ball deep to left for a 2-0 lead.
Reyes’ failed tango quickly turned into the equivalent of hitting the cupid shuffle at a party in 2017, which is somehow worse than doing nothing at all. He allowed back-to-back walks, a three-run home run and then another walk, all in the third. The sheer plentitude of party faux-pas caused an early departure, leaving after a mere 2.2 innings. In his six starts this season, Rogelio’s average outing is only 3.1 innings. With an 8.10 ERA as a starter, being relegated to the bullpen for the rest of the season might be in the works unless he can drastically pick up the pace.
After tagging Reyes and the Bears for three more runs, the Dons offense came to a halt. Cal’s bullpen arms held San Francisco to only three hits over the next 5.1 innings. San Francisco managed to get junior reliever Andrew Buckley for two runs in the sixth but stayed silent the rest of the afternoon.
The Bears were only able to push across one other run — a bases-loaded, two-out walk by freshman Anthony Walters in the eighth inning. Even with the pressure off in a midweek, nonconference matchup, Cal came up flat after a series filled with late-inning heroics last weekend against USC.
Now, back at .500 with two months until the end the season, the Bears still do not have a clear-cut path to the finish line. The Bears have exactly one week until they face these Dons again, this time at Evans Diamond. Their 15-6 home record suggests a better outcome, but with this Bear squad, it’s anyone’s guess.