Long Beach State made its way up to Berkeley for the weekend from Snoop Dogg’s beloved hometown, and the Cal baseball team busted out the brooms and brushed the Dirtbags back down the Pacific Coast Highway in the team’s second series sweep of the season. After seeing 48 home runs on Major League Baseball’s opening day Thursday, Cal followed suit by racking up nine dingers of its own throughout the three-game series.
First baseman Andrew Vaughn kicked off the weekend’s hit parade Friday night by launching a two-run shot over the right-field wall in the bottom of the first in game one, and catcher Korey Lee added on to Cal’s lead by blasting two solo homers in the fourth and sixth innings. After yet another solo shot from Quentin Selma and seven stellar innings on the mound from Sam Stoutenborough, the Bears wrapped up game one with a 7-1 victory.
Junior Jared Horn toed the rubber in game two for his third start of the season, and through his first four innings, the right-hander didn’t allow a single runner to reach base. With the help of a run-saving relay throw to the plate from shortstop Sam Wezniak in the sixth, Horn surrendered only two earned runs through six innings on the day. After a seventh-inning surge fueled by solo blasts from Lee and center fielder Cameron Eden, the Bears distanced themselves from the Dirtbags and guaranteed themselves a series win with a 10-5 triumph.
“With this offense, we’re never out of a game,” Horn said. “I was trying to go out there and minimize the runs, just trying to keep my team in the game. But I knew after that two spot, we were going to score more runs and that it was going to take more than two to beat us.”
Horn certainly did his part in putting the Bears in position to win game two, just as he has done all season long — after facing considerable struggles in his sophomore season, Horn has rebounded this year and now holds a 2.40 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.
“(I’m) just staying on the grind,” the righty said. “I’ve been working with (pitching coach) Matt Flemer and (head coach) Mike Neu every day to just try to get better, commandwise, offspeed, in the zone. You know, I’ve just been trying to work on one thing per day to get me a little bit better every day.”
The series’ third and final game Sunday afternoon was once again the Korey Lee show — through patience and commitment to his approach at the plate, the catcher raked a three-run dinger and a bases-clearing double for a career-high six RBIs.
“It’s been the same thing all year, just trying to get my pitch and sticking to my strengths to the right side,” Lee explained. “And if I get out in front of a pitch, I’ll kind of pull it, but just sticking to the right-center approach, and that’s the biggest thing I can do.”
In addition to Lee’s fourth bomb of the series, Wezniak and Selma hit homers of their own, and the Bears completed their sweep of Long Beach State with a 13-5 onslaught. After capturing its first series win in nearly a month, the Bears believe they can repeat their success moving forward, regardless of which team they’re facing.
“We’re going to come out, and we’re going to play the same baseball, no matter who they are,” Lee said. “So if it’s LSU, if it’s Cal Poly, if it’s Long Beach, it doesn’t really matter. So just coming out with that fire is the biggest thing for our team.”
Now holding a 14-11 record, Cal will ready up for another home series against 6-20 Washington State that is set to commence Friday. Despite the recent inconsistency in the Bay Area’s weather, fans can count on the Bears bringing the thunder in an attempt to capture a second consecutive series win.
Joey Patton covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected].