Flash back a month ago to Cal baseball’s 6-0 midweek loss to Sacramento State. Head coach Mike Neu was not a happy camper.
The Bears didn’t hit well. They didn’t pitch well. They didn’t field well. You know, they didn’t do any of the things needed to win a baseball game.
That game was a wake-up call. Flash forward to Tuesday — both squads met once again, but this time around, the skipper was singing a different tune. Cal got its revenge in style, romping Sacramento State, 12-4.
“We had a good little run, and then we played really poorly that game,” Neu said. “I think it was a little bit of a turning point up until that point where we knew, hey, we got to come in focused every day, we got to really make sure that we’re ready to play every game, we really got to play for each other and not have any kind of selfishness to our game.”
These teams’ first duel up in Sacramento was defined by the Bears’ bats going eerily silent in a fashion they seldom do. They were limited to a season-low four hits and didn’t record a single extra-base hit for the first time all season.
In their second matchup, Cal put any concerns of another offensively deprived game to rest from the jump, batting around the order en route to six runs on six hits in the first inning alone. That first inning set the tone for what was one of the Bears’ better slugfests of the season, as they ended with 16 hits, quadrupling their total of four from their last meeting with the Hornets.
It wasn’t just how many runs Cal put on the board, but the diversity of the offense. All nine starters had at least one hit. Six starters reached base multiple times. Five players had multihit games. Three players had multi-RBI games.
There is no shortage of offensive performances to zero in on. Max Flower, Cole Elvis, Sam Wezniak and Korey Lee all blasted home runs. Lee drove in four runs, and leadoff batter Cameron Eden did leadoff batter things, reaching base four times with a pair each of hits and walks.
There was plenty of offense to go around, but particularly worth noting from the perspective of revenge is none other than Andrew Vaughn.
In their previous encounter up north, the Hornets’ pitching staff made Vaughn look human. Vaughn was hitless in four at-bats, struck out three times and had an uncharacteristically ugly swing on a breaking ball in the dirt. The second time around, Vaughn reached base in all five plate appearances, recording three hits and two walks and driving in a run.
“Offensively, we did what we needed to do,” Neu said. “That was great to see.”
The offensive fireworks afforded the seven pitchers Neu sent to the mound, five of whom were freshmen, opportunities to pitch relatively stress-free.
Connor Oswalt made his Cal debut, allowing a home run to the first batter he faced, but he settled down afterward and struck out two batters in his lone inning of work.