With a bounce-back win against Villanova under its belt, Cal aims to start a new win streak in the upcoming three-game stint against Arizona. Similar 2023 season records on either side and perfect Tucson weather conditions guarantees a compelling series of college baseball at Hi Corbett Field.
Coming into this weekend, the Bears sport an 8-3 record compared to the Wildcats’ 9-3. Both teams have done well on all parts of the diamond, aiming to best or outlast the other in the series this weekend.
In the month of March, however, the Bears have split their first four games, experiencing a bump in the road compared to their 6-1 opening to the season. Despite their recent shakiness, the Bears have done a great job of limiting offensive explosions by their opponents. In the first seven games, Cal’s pitching staff surrendered four runs or less in six of the matchups, setting the offense up to win those competitions.
The Bears have only allowed eight or more runs scored in a game three times this year — constituting their three losses. Cal pitching needs to find its groove of allowing fewer runners to score against the Wildcats, who have put up double-digit runs in a third of their games played. The Bears will rely heavily on continued solid showings from Ian May, Paulshawn Pasqualotto, Connor Sullivan, Daniel Colwell and Tucker Bougie.
May leads the bunch with a 0.00 ERA in 16 innings pitched, keeping opponents to a .158 batting average in 57 at-bats. Arizona pitchers who experienced a similar workload of 15 innings or more up to this point have ERAs of 3.38 (Bradon Zastrow), 4.32 (TJ Nichols) and 5.40 (Anthony “Tonko” Susac).
Even with Cal’s solid record, the team finds itself in the lower-middle part of the Pac-12, with conference matchups yet to come to fruition. This initial conference series could prove to be a crucial momentum shifter for either team as each tries to start off on the right foot.
How have these teams done against each other in the past?
Over the last 23 years, Cal and Arizona have met in over 60 games, resulting in a fairly even 31 wins for the Bears and 34 wins for the Wildcats. The last two series did not end in Cal’s favor, with the team losing two of three games in the ‘22 and ‘21 seasons. The Bears will look to get a series win against Arizona for the first time since 2019.
This year, both teams are shaping up to be contenders. To open its season, Arizona took down No. 2 Tennessee in a 3-1 victory at the MLB Desert Invitational. A solid outing from starter Nichols led the way, as he only allowed one run in six innings against a tough UT lineup. For Cal, an 8-4 win over No. 2 Stanford turned heads and had a lot of weight on early predictions for success this season.
However, in the Bears’ last loss, the offense ran out of steam early, unable to score after the fourth inning. Offensive leaders Rodney Green Jr. and Caleb Lomavita need to get the lineup going early in Arizona and help to ignite the bats. If Cal can maintain pressure against Wildcat pitching, jump out in front and sustain a lead, the team will be set up for success.
The beginning of Pac-12 games raises the stakes, giving teams a chance to make noise early. Tune in Friday at 5 p.m. PST to watch the series opener between the Bears and the Wildcats and to see which team comes out swinging in the early showing.