Dodgers vs. Giants, 49ers vs. Rams, Earthquakes vs. Galaxy. The Golden State is renowned for its countless rivalries but none other goes as far back as California vs. Stanford.
This year’s Big Series proved to be no competition at all as the Bears dropped each game of the series, going 0-3 against the Cardinal. No. 11 Stanford was the clear favorite going into the series as it sat third in the Pac-12 and held an impressive 14-5 record at home. Conversely, Cal went into the series in eighth place in the conference and fighting to stay above .500.
The Bears’ bats were silenced this weekend against rival Stanford. Cal is a team that has averaged at least six runs per game this season, and yet it was held to only two runs in two of the three games this weekend.
Going to the Farm, the blue and gold knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but nobody could have prepared them for the series that would unfold.
Both sides appeared to be on equal footing when the series began as the Bears and Cardinal both notched one run in the first inning on Friday. Stanford picked up another run in the second, to which Cal had no answer. Hitting it out of the park was Cardinal catcher Kody Huff, picking up three RBIs and putting the home side up 5-1. Stanford would go on to add another run before Cal attempted to make a ninth inning comeback that ultimately fell short with the visitors losing 6-2.
The blue and gold appeared to be turning things around on Saturday as they went up early 7-0. Responding swiftly, Stanford scored eight unanswered across the remaining six innings. Winning in walk-off fashion surely gave the home side a scare but their celebrations that night showed anything but.
It only went from bad to worse for the Bears as they were handed a landslide 11-3 loss on Sunday. Stanford was on fire, surely riding the high of picking up two wins over its rival in the days prior. The Cardinal scored five runs unanswered across the first six innings before Cal got on the board. At 5-2 it really could have been anyone’s game but the Cardinal was sure not to lose at home as it picked up five more runs to seal the deal.
Not even the historically strong slugging efforts from the likes of Cal’s Dylan Beavers, Keshawn Ogans and Nathan Martorella were enough to combat the Cardinal’s caliber. The three combined for a meager four runs, 11 hits and four RBI across the entire series.
Freshman standout Caleb Lomavita showed consistency this weekend as he stepped up when others struggled, getting the only two RBIs of Friday’s series opener.
To the disdain of Cal fans, Stanford is looking unstoppable, as the team’s form is impeccable through these final weeks of regular season competition. Since picking up three wins this weekend, the Cardinal are now second in the Pac-12 and No. 8 nationally.
Shining exceptionally bright for the Cardinal was junior Huff. The starting catcher ran wild against his Bay Area rival, managing a whopping .500 batting average and seven RBIs in the three game series.
Yes, the Bears were heavily disadvantaged heading into the series, but getting swept is arguably the worst thing that could have happened to a team barely holding on for life. Cal had previously played three game series against six other nationally ranked teams, but this was the first time it failed to pick up a single victory.
With a regionals berth being next to impossible, the Bears can only hope a strong finish will bring them the slightest reprieve.
Dropping this weekend’s series, however, doesn’t mark the end for the Bears. Now 11-16 in the Pac-12, the blue and gold find themselves sitting seventh after Utah fell to Arizona State — a position that would narrowly get them into the Pac-12 tournament in two weeks.
Amber Soto covers baseball. Contact her at [email protected].