After stumbling through its series against the University of Illinois, Chicago, Cal baseball is back on its feet. Now, an action-packed week ahead will put the Bears to the test.
Cal looks to build on its momentum as it heads to the Florida Panhandle to face off against Florida State in a three-game nonconference series, before returning to Evans Diamond to host Santa Clara University on Tuesday.
Cal beat No. 23 Sacramento State 6-2 March 1, marking the Bears’ second win against ranked teams this season. It was a thorough and comprehensive performance through all nine innings. The Bears found the game’s breakthrough in the fourth inning with runs from freshman outfielder Rodney Green Jr. and fifth-year infielder Hance Smith. When the Hornets responded with two runs to tie the game at 2-2 at the top of the sixth, the Bears immediately recaptured the lead with four runs at the bottom of the same inning to take a 6-2 lead. Thereafter, the pitching committee shut out Sacramento State.
Cal, which is unranked, will go into this upcoming weekend as the underdog against No. 10 Florida State, which is perched toward the top of the national rankings. But the blue and gold’s pedigree this season is arguably more impressive than their southeastern opponents — the Seminoles are yet to beat a ranked opponent this season, while the Bears have already done so twice.
After Cal finishes its series against Florida State on Sunday, March 6, it will have just one day of rest before it hosts Bay Area neighbor Santa Clara on Tuesday, March 8.
Santa Clara has played four games against Pac-12 teams this season, winning just once. But the Broncos, who started the season slowly, may have found their groove after winning three out of four games in a series against Northwestern this past weekend.
While Cal is in Tallahassee, Santa Clara will give itself a heat check as it hosts UCSD — newly promoted to NCAA Division I last year. The Broncos will then travel to the East Bay to play Cal on Tuesday.
With a busy week ahead, the outlook for the Bears is uncertain. Early into the season, their results have already shown characteristics of an inconsistent and unpredictable team. Cal’s wins against TCU and Sacramento State indicate that it is capable of competing against top national programs, but its disappointing losses to UIC and Gonzaga tell a very different story.
“We’re just so early in the season that we’re learning as we play games and, and getting experience,” said head coach Mike Neu. “We obviously have some young guys that are playing, so part of it is just learning from some of the mistakes we’re making and continuing to play to figure out what pieces are going to fit.”
The next four games against Florida State and Santa Clara will offer a great opportunity for the Bears to find their rhythm. Friday and Sunday’s games against Florida State will be available for streaming on ACC Network. Cal will then play Santa Clara at Evans Diamond on March 8, where the game will also be streamed on Cal Live Stream-2.