Cal men’s baseball has been dominant this season.
The Bears’ record of 6-1 to start out the 2023 season, has been its best under the reign of head coach Mike Neu since he took over in 2018. The Bears boast a four-game winning streak, which includes a strong 8-4 victory against No. 2 Stanford.
With momentum and confidence, the blue and gold will look to come out on top at the Frisco Classic in Texas to solidify their status as one of the nation’s top teams.
A good performance in Texas could see Cal catapult into the top 25, as the Bears claw for a seat among the best. The Bears last competed at the Frisco Classic in 2018, where they lost two of three games. However, with a revitalized squad, Cal is surely eyeing the tournament trophy, looking to add to its early season success.
At the plate, the Bears have been relying heavily on the established sophomore duo of Rodney Green Jr. and Caleb Lomavita. Green Jr. leads the team with a .367 batting average and 11 hits, while also producing an OPS of 1.039, two home runs, two doubles and six RBIs. Lomavita, former All Pac-12 First Team honoree, hasn’t missed a beat from last season, putting together a .333 batting average and .979 OPS, while only striking out four times in 30 plate appearances.
However, the biggest surprise so far this season has to be infielder Carson Crawford, who has been on a hitting barrage in his first seven games. Crawford is batting .292 while compiling a slugging percentage of .667 and getting on base 41.4% of the time. The sophomore’s top performance of the early season so far came against Bay area rivals Stanford, where he blasted a grand slam in the first inning.
On the mound, starter Ian May displayed poise and composure with two excellent starts against Houston and Cal Poly, respectively. In Cal’s first game of the season, May pitched eight shutout innings while striking out seven and only allowing three hits and one walk. The sophomore continued the scoreless trend against Cal Poly in six solid innings.
May is joined by two-way player Tucker Bougie, who threw seven clean innings to go along with six strikeouts in his second start.
Coach Neu should expect even greater success if the pitching staff can continue to maintain excellence in the upcoming games and stay hot.
“The formula is for us to pitch and play really good defense,” Neu said. If we do those things, and we get better as the year goes on in those areas, we will be in a position to win a lot of games.”
The Frisco Classic holds formidable opponents in Oklahoma, Ohio State and Mississippi State.
Oklahoma has been off to a slow start with a 4-4 record but has potential to be dangerous, considering that the Sooners went 45-24 overall just last season.
Ohio State, while 3-5, should not be taken lightly — all five of its losses have been within three runs, displaying the competitiveness of each game.
Mississippi State is 6-3 and currently holds a three-game winning streak, which includes a recent 10-9 victory over No. 25 Southern Miss. Its offense will need to be stalled by the Bears’ pitching, as the Bulldogs have scored 10 or more runs in five of nine games.
The Frisco Classic in Texas will take place from March 3 to March 5. Whether the Bears can validate their early season success remains to be seen.