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Bears to take on Villanova for 1st time in program history

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MARCH 07, 2023

Returning from a 1-2 performance at the Frisco Classic held in Frisco, Texas, Cal men’s baseball looks to bounce back into the win column as it takes on Villanova on March 7 at its home Stu Gordon Stadium.

The Wildcats have not won a game since Feb. 24, coming into Tuesday’s game with a six-game losing streak after being swept by the University of San Francisco in a three-game series this past weekend. The Dons outscored the Wildcats by 16 runs.

The Bears, on the other hand, were able to keep up with their opponents, but narrowly lost to Oklahoma and Mississippi State by four runs each. They did, however, manage to secure a win against Ohio State, the eventual champion of the Frisco Classic.

“Obviously you’d like to win more than one out of three, but I thought we had opportunities to win all three games,” said Cal head coach Mike Neu. “We had the lead or tied in every game pretty late in the game.”

Defensively, Neu admits, the Bears did not play their best last weekend. But he thinks the team is capable of playing better, and that is the energy Cal is bringing into Tuesday’s game.

This sentiment was echoed by sophomore catcher Caleb Lomavita. He said that the weekend left the team with many learning points, but the team could have done certain things better — make the “for-sure plays,” for example.

Despite the losses, the Bears’ overall performance provides encouraging signs of growth for future matchups.

“We know that we can hang with these teams and play some of these teams … shows that we’re able to really perform at a higher level, even though we did lose two, three games,” said sophomore outfielder Rodney Green Jr. “Definitely I think (the Frisco Classic) had a positive effect.”

Tuesday night will mark the first matchup between these two teams in Cal program history, but there seems no added pressure on the Bears to get the first win.

“The game stays the same. Ninety-feet bases, sixty-foot mound,” Lomavita said. “They still (have) got to throw it over the plate and (you’ve) still got to hit it. So it’s the same game, just a different opponent.”

The Bears’ offense will once again rely on the two sophomores Tuesday, with Green Jr. and Lomavita combining for eight hits, four RBIs and a .381 batting average over the three games in Frisco.

Green Jr. continues to lead the offense with a .357 batting average, .690 slugging percentage and 15 hits. Lomavita comes in second behind Green Jr. in all categories except slugging percentage and stolen bases. The sophomore pair lead the team in at-bats with 42 plate appearances apiece.

Sophomore Carson Crawford is also increasing his offensive contributions, racking up four RBIs and forcing three walks over the weekend. He leads the team with 15 RBIs and four doubles.

The Wildcats’ offense is dominated by graduate student infielder Craig Larsen, who leads the team with a .488 slugging percentage, 12 hits and seven RBIs. Senior infielder Jack O’Reilly may also have an impact, with five runs scored and two stolen bases.

Despite facing a new opponent, Lomavita is confident that the Bears have something to prove Tuesday.

“This team really comes back for vengeance and we use the losses to fuel how we play,” Lomavita said. “We proved it on the field on Saturday (against Ohio State) and I feel like we (will) do the same on Tuesday.”

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MARCH 07, 2023