This past weekend, the Cal baseball team journeyed up to Washington and took the reins on a pack of Huskies in its final series of the 2019 regular season.
Despite clear skies at the start of game one, Cal’s offense brought the thunder and produced a whopping 18 runs, highlighted by five hits from center fielder Cameron Eden and a ninth-inning grand slam from catcher Korey Lee.
In their decisive 18-8 victory, the Bears accumulated 24 hits and every offensive starter reached base at least once.
On the mound, Cal threw four pitchers and allowed six earned runs on the day. Sitting atop a comfortable lead in the sixth, Cal skipper Mike Neu pulled freshman Sam Stoutenborough and explored his inventory in the bullpen.
Through 3.2 innings, relievers Carson Olson, Arman Sabouri and Sean Sullivan allowed just two earned runs collectively to secure the victory.
“We felt like we were in a great situation with a lead and having an opportunity to give some guys some experience,” Neu explained. “The postseason can test your depth, and you want to make sure these guys get a little bit of experience if you get the opportunity.”
Unlike the previous day’s blowout, the second game of the series proved a contentious battle in which the Bears and Huskies went toe-to-toe from start to finish.
After Cal had trailed multiple times throughout the game’s first five innings, left fielder John Lagattuta gave the Bears their first lead of the game with a two-RBI double in the top of the sixth.
Although Cal didn’t score for the remainder of the game, a scoreless three innings from junior Rogelio Reyes maintained the Bears’ lead, and the team wrapped up a 4-3 victory.
While the series was originally scheduled for three games, inclement weather conditions prevailed, and the Bears had their second game rained out in just two weeks.
With a 2-0 series victory over Washington, the Bears conclude their season with an overall record of 32-18, and their conference record of 17-11 puts them in fourth place in the ever-so-competitive Pac-12.
The 2019 season was anything but a cakewalk for Cal, as the team faced many struggles early on and showed a lack of consistency until a series sweep over Long Beach State in late March. Since that awakening, the Bears went on an 18-7 run to close out the season and have earned themselves a No. 31 ranking in the NCAA rating percentage index rankings.
Although it’s still undetermined whom the Bears will face in their regional competition, they will need to rely on the same strong play that has propelled them to success throughout the latter portion of the regular season.
“I think we feel really good about it,” Neu said. “We’ve been playing well for a long time. We kind of know who we are, and we know how to win games, and I think we feel confident going into any series that we have in the postseason.”
With the final series of the regular season now in the rearview mirror, the Bears can direct their attention to the road ahead and fight for California in pursuit of the 2019 College World Series.
Joey Patton covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected].