The Cal baseball team traveled to face No. 18 Arizona for its last series of the year. In a season filled with many lows, Cal entered the series looking to end 2017 on a high note.
The Bears were able to do just that, stealing two of three from the Wildcats for their first road series victory over a ranked opponent of the season.
The win also allowed the Bears to finish .500 in Pac-12 play this year, one game better than their 14-16 finish last season.
“It’s huge to do it now with this team and not have to wait a year to win a series against a quality team on the road, ” said Cal head coach David Esquer. “To already have that box checked is something to build off of.”
Cal’s only loss of the series came during game one in which it fell to the Wildcats 10-3. The Bears’ first run of the day in game one came in the first inning as sophomore Tanner Dodson brought home sophomore Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. on an infield single to give the Bears an early 1-0 lead.
Dodson chipped in another run in the top of the third, extending Cal’s lead to 2-0. Freshman Andrew Vaughn led off the inning with a double down the right field line, then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt laid down by junior Denis Karas. Dodson once again capitalized on the opportunity with a runner in scoring position, grounding out to short to drive in Vaughn.
It didn’t take long for the Wildcats to finally gain some traction and catch up to the Bears. In the bottom of the third, Arizona sparked a two-out rally. With runners on first and second, freshman Jared Horn balked, putting runners on second and third for Arizona’s junior standout JJ Matijevic. The junior cashed at the plate to tie the ballgame at two apiece, doubling home two to erase the Cal lead.
Cal regained the lead in the top of the sixth with an RBI single from junior Matt Ruff which drove in freshman Cameron Eden, but Arizona would respond with eight unanswered runs with a three-run sixth and five-run seventh to bust the game wide open.
Dodson allowed two runs in the sixth and got stuck with the loss, but both of his runs were unearned. Junior Preston Grand Pre committed an error, which kicked off the Wildcat rally in the sixth. Sophomore Tyrus Greene allowed a passed ball with a runner on third, allowing the second of three Wildcats to score.
The Bears were able to turn it around and find success in game two, winning a hard-fought game 9-6. With the ballgame tied 5-5 heading into the top of the sixth, Vaughn gave the Bears a one-run lead after singling up the middle.
Cal would extend the lead with two more runs coming in the top of the eighth. The Bears hammered the final nail in the coffin with a sacrifice fly from Ruff, extending the lead to 9-5.
The Bears showed up at the plate to win the series with a 7-4 victory in game three. Sophomore Ripken Reyes led the team in their final game of the season with a team-high three RBI.
Reyes’ clutchest hit of the day came in the top of the seventh when he doubled down the left field line, putting the Bears ahead 5-4. Cal would go on to extended the lead before closing the season with a 7-4 victory over Arizona.
This season may not have ended in a playoff run, but Bears can head into the offseason with their heads held high following the momentous wins.