daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian!

Bears bash past Houston, Stanford, look towards Cal Baseball Classic

article image



We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

FEBRUARY 24, 2023

The high, booming ball was propelled 100 feet over the left field wall by the gusty Bay Area winds, but it was hit hard enough to be a home run on a windless day. The first inning grand slam against No. 2 Stanford, courtesy of hot-hitting Carson Crawford, was the highlight of a fantastic opening weekend for Cal.

Yet it was just one of numerous plays that went Cal’s way in a nearly perfect start to the 2023 season. With a series win at Houston and an 8-4 midweek victory over Stanford, the Bears are off to one of their best starts under head coach Mike Neu.

Sophomore Ian May got the ball rolling Friday night, tossing eight scoreless innings to propel the Bears to an opening day 7-0 shutout against the Cougars. Fellow sophomore Rodney Green Jr. provided the offensive firepower with four RBIs, including a three-run blast to right center.

In fact, it was the duo of Green and Caleb Lomavita that carried the Bears all week. The two combined to go .421 (16-38), with three homers, nine RBIs and three stolen bases.

“There’s great chemistry on this team. It started way back when we got to this school,” said Lomavita. “Nobody thinks they are better than anyone else. There are roles on this team, and we need to fill those roles.”

Not to be outmatched, fellow sophomore Crawford led the Bears to a series win Saturday with a clutch ninth-inning double that put the blue and gold on top for good. Crawford was not done, though, registering two more hits in Sunday’s 8-6 loss before his grand slam against highly ranked Stanford propelled the team to a resume-building victory.

The sophomore slugger leads the team with a .429 batting average and eight RBIs, and sports a ridiculous 1.413 OPS through four games.

On the mound, Christian Becerra was masterful out of the pen, appearing in three of the games to strike out eight in five innings pitched. He is yet another sophomore — the second-year class has proven instrumental in the Bears’ early success and only appears to be getting better with more experience.

“I thought our pitchers attacked really well right from the start,” said Neu. “When we played really good defense, we gave ourselves a chance to win on that side of the ball. I thought we struggled at times with that in the past.”

Despite the impressive start to the season, Cal is in no position to rest on its laurels. The Bears also started 3-1 in 2022, but proceeded to lose a home series to Illinois-Chicago that derailed their nonconference slate.

What’s more, Cal will be facing much better competition during its second weekend compared to last year, hosting Cal Poly and UConn in the Cal Baseball Classic.

Cal Poly (2-1), to be played on Friday and the latter end of Saturday’s double-header, is a familiar face for the Bears, who split two midweek games with the Mustangs last year.

Meanwhile, UConn is coming off an incredibly successful season that saw the Huskies advance to the Super Regionals for the first time since 2011, the same year Cal reached the College World Series. Though off to a middling 2-2 start after a series split with Ohio State (which Cal will be playing next weekend), the Huskies are projected to dominate the Big East and secure another trip to the postseason.

“I think it’s good because you learn more about your team when you’re playing a good team,” said Neu. “The mistakes are quantified a little bit more; there’s probably less margin for error. It tells you a lot early on.”

The Bears will have their hands full with the weekend slate, especially considering that they will have played eight games in 10 days. It will be a true litmus weekend for Cal — not in terms of the level of competition, as Cal has already faced two hardy opponents, but in its ability to sustain its hot start.

“You know that every game is important regardless of who you play,” said Neu. “But any time you play well and beat a good team, it’s a big deal not just for the team, but for the season.”

College baseball remains a volatile sport, and it is as important as ever to utilize a hot streak to start building your postseason resume. Cal has the chance to pick up some quality wins in its home openers to showcase to the Pac-12 and the country: Baseball is back in Berkeley.

Contact Noah Parker at 


FEBRUARY 24, 2023