Everyone knows we don’t always get what we want. The blue and gold experienced this harsh reality in their past four matches.
After an electrifying start in the MLB4 Tournament, the Bears were looking to continue their momentum against UIC and Sacramento State. Unfortunately for Cal, it split its next four games — dropping its series against UIC 1-2, and winning over No. 23 Sacramento State.
Tied 2-2 with Sacramento heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, the Bears were desperate to make a move. After several hits and a few walks, the blue and gold were up 4-2. Stepping up to the plate was senior Cole Elvis with the bases loaded. Elvis swung, hitting a single up the middle. As the Hornets scrambled to make a play, Trevor Tishenkel and Nathan Martorella sprinted toward home plate. Safely returning home, the two put Cal on top with a score of 6-2. Evans Diamond erupted with cheers and claps from Cal fans as they celebrated the play that would end up securing the Bears’ win over nationally ranked Sacramento State.
Before this momentous victory, however, Cal had its three-game series with UIC — the first of which was the Bears’ home opener. Dreaming of securing a win in its first home game with fans in attendance since spring 2020, Cal started right-handed pitcher Josh White. Coming off of last weekend’s 10-strikeout performance against Houston, all eyes were on White. In the face of pressure, White soared once again. Through his six innings, White allowed only three hits and one walk, and struck out 10 of the 21 batters he faced.
White’s excellent performance, however, was not enough for the Bears to secure the win, as they scored a meager two runs and dropped four. Two of UIC’s runs came in the seventh inning when Cal’s right-handed pitcher Vaughn Mauterer stepped to the mound and threw a wild pitch. Dropping this match put the Bears at 3-2 on the season.
“Once we got down, we were just kind of scrambling a little bit,” said Cal head coach Mike Neu. “We just couldn’t find a way to get that big hit when we needed it.”
The blue and gold found those big hits in the second game of the series in their dominant 12-2 win. Cal’s 12 runs were scored by seven players: Keshawn Ogans, Rodney Green Jr., Elvis, Caleb Lomavita, Carson Crawford, Jag Burden and Dylan Beavers — with the latter four picking up two runs each. Fans long awaiting a notable performance by Beavers finally got it as he picked up two runs on three hits, managing a season-high batting average of .333.
Giving way for this strong offensive performance was an equally strong pitching effort in which Steven Zobac and Ian May combined for eight strikeouts and five hits through 35 batters.
Cal’s most commanding win in the season thus far was immediately followed by a lackluster performance that saw the Bears fall to the Flames 6-1. UIC went up early with three runs in the first four innings. Adding to its total, UIC picked up three more runs in the eighth inning. Notably, these last runs largely came off errors from the Bears’ defense. Scoring Cal’s only run of the night was freshman Green Jr. off of a single by Beavers.
Though the blue and gold’s offense largely disappeared in this game, one cannot overlook the strong performance of UIC’s pitching staff. UIC’s starting pitcher, Sam Menegat, had a decent four innings in which he struck out four batters. Replacing him in the fifth inning was right-handed pitcher Matt Zahora who allowed only one hit through 17 batters. On paper, the Bears had more than enough time to make a comeback, but they were simply no match for UIC’s pitching duo that night.
“We’re going to go through a couple of ups and downs early on,” Neu said. “Hopefully we find a rhythm.”
Through these ups and downs, Cal’s hopes and dreams didn’t come entirely true. Nevertheless, fans shouldn’t be too disappointed from this showing as the Bears are now 5-3 on the season and have shown that they can take charge of games.