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Play ball: Bears set to open Pac-12 play against No. 16 Arizona

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THEO WYSS-FLAMM | SENIOR STAFF

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MARCH 10, 2022

In any sport, you always play to win. During the length of a season, you’re expected to drop a few games, but ultimately pick up as many wins as possible. The key for many is getting hot at just the right time. No one wants to get hot too early — especially not in baseball, where the teams play upwards of 50 games. As they head into their 13th game of the season, however, the Bears need to turn up the heat.

After Tuesday’s high-scoring loss to Santa Clara, the blue and gold now have a record of 6-6. Once again, a .500 record is coming to haunt the Bears. Though it is still early in the season, Cal must take things into its own hands and not let its postseason fate lie with others.

The Bears will be looking to prove they’re more than average in this weekend’s series against No. 16 Arizona. Friday’s game marks the beginning of the Pac-12 season for the Bears.

The Wildcats will be no walk in the park as they are 10-3 on the season — a record that features a win over No. 14 Texas Tech — and actively looking to make their second consecutive appearance at the College World Series.

When the two faced off last season, the Wildcats were ranked No. 22 and won the series 2-1 at home — with the Bears claiming a 9-1 victory in the series finale. This time, Arizona will be traveling to Berkeley for its first away matchup of the year.

Though powerhouse Arizona enters the series as the favorite, it truly can be a tossup. The Wildcats will become the fourth nationally ranked team the Bears have gone up against this season. Previously, they saw No. 17 TCU, No. 22 Sacramento State and No. 10 Florida State, and picked up a win over each.

“We’ve played some really good games against some good teams and played well.” said Cal head coach Mike Neu. “We’ve also had some letdowns, some games that we felt like we should have won.”

The Bears have faced their fair share of ups and downs early this season but must buckle down with the beginning of Pac-12 play. Splitting series and dropping otherwise winnable games need to become a thing of the past if the blue and gold want to have any success against strong Pac-12 opponents.

“Our guys will be ready to go,” Neu said. “Playing at home, opening conference, there’s not a lot of motivation that you need.”

After its series against Arizona, Cal will take a short trip south to face San Jose State on Tuesday evening. Unlike the Wildcats, the Spartans are not nationally ranked, but that doesn’t mean the Bears should relax.

The Spartans are having themselves a fairly decent season thus far with a record of 8-4 and are amid a three-game win streak. Before facing Cal, they will travel to Reno where they will face Nevada. Regardless of the away results, San Jose State will be hoping to repeat last season’s 10-7 home victory over the Bears.

All eyes will be on senior catcher Cole Elvis to see if he can maintain form. Currently boasting a team-high .354 batting average and 12 RBIs, Elvis has been key for the Bears’ success this season.

Of course, Cal fans will be looking to junior outfielder Dylan Beavers to help bring home some wins. Beavers currently is the team leader in home runs with four in the last 12 games — a rate that has him on track to match last season’s numbers.

Two other possible impact players are freshmen Caleb Lomavita and Rodney Green Jr.

Though neither has largely impressive statistics at this point, they are establishing themselves for the Bears. Lomavita has logged 11 of Cal’s 64 runs so far this season and Green Jr. has come up big when the Bears needed it most, as seen in his winning runs versus TCU and Florida.

Fans of the blue and gold — or MLB fans desperate for some baseball — can watch all three games of their series against Arizona on Pac-12 Plus.

Amber Soto covers baseball. Contact her at [email protected].
LAST UPDATED

MARCH 10, 2022


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