Cal baseball takes on nonconference opponents Nevada and Saint Mary’s this week in a much-needed break from Pac-12 matchups.
The Bears were swept in three straight games against No. 9 Stanford and are sitting at the bottom of conference standings with a 3-12 record. The blue and gold have yet to win a series against any of their Pac-12 rivals so far this season.
However, games against teams not in the Pac-12 have proven to swing more favorably for the Bears. Cal holds an 8-3 record in nonconference play and hopes this winning trend can continue against the Wolf Pack and the Gaels.
This all starts with the offense, which has cooled down a bit after a scorching-hot start. If Cal wishes to right the ship this week, Rodney Green Jr. and Caleb Lomavita, the two anchors at the plate, will need to maintain their excellence.
Green Jr. has a batting average of .275, an OPS of .858 and is leading the team in slugging percentage at .495. The sophomore also has 14 RBIs, six home runs and 18 stolen bases, with the latter two figures both in the top 20 among all players in the Pac-12.
Lomavita has been a calm presence in the batting box, as the catcher is hitting .270 to go along with six home runs and 20 RBIs. The fellow sophomore also has struck out just 17 times in 115 at-bats.
Peyton Schulze, Dom Souto and Kade Kretzschmar have all shown moments of brilliance but need to be more consistent in a lineup that has struggled to get hits.
On the mound, the absence of Ian May leaves a gaping hole in the Cal defense, as the Bears have given up four or more runs in their past seven games. Prior to injury, the ace had yet to allow an earned run in three consecutive starts.
However, Paulshawn Pasqualotto continues to be a bright spot for a depleted pitching staff. After missing his entire sophomore season, the junior has pitched 29 innings with a 3.10 ERA while limiting opponents to a .194 batting average.
Connor Sullivan, Tucker Bougie, Christian Becerra and Daniel Colwell have all thrown more than 20 innings but all hold ERAs above four, giving head coach Mike Neu unreliable options in high leverage situations.
Similar to the blue and gold, Nevada is last in its conference standings with a record of 4-10 in the Mountain West. Overall, the Wolf Pack are 13-17, coming off a series loss to UNLV.
Nevada’s fifth-year catcher Matt Clayton is one to look out for. He is hitting .308, with an OPS of .913 and a slugging percentage of .530. He leads the team in RBIs with 21.
Saint Mary’s holds an overall record of 11-16 and is 6-6 in the West Coast Conference. When the Bears last hosted the Gaels in 2022, they were unable to come out victorious, losing 5-10.
With time running out to change the course of the season, the Bears look to reset against nonconference opponents in Nevada and Saint Mary’s. A positive outcome this week can lift Cal’s downward trajectory, as there is still time to make a push for the Pac-12 tournament in May.