Being held scoreless for nine straight innings, striking out 30 times and allowing 30 runs later, the Bears are off to an 0-3 start in conference play after a dominant showing from the Wildcats. However, a bright spot for Cal came in the fourth inning of Game 3 as Max Handron belted his first home run as a Bear.
Despite perfect mid-70s weather, Arizona let it rain on Cal, outplaying its opponent on all parts of the diamond. The main threat proved to be the Wildcats’ offense, outscoring the Bears 30-12 across the three-game span. Even though the two teams managed similar hit totals in games two and three, Arizona’s constant offensive pressure and stand-out individual performances kept it at full throttle for most of the weekend.
Led by first baseman Kiko Romero — who put up two home runs, six RBIs and scored five times — the Wildcats exhibited an offensive explosion and a menacing display of baseball in the opener. Cal’s Andres Galan took the bump, coming off a one-inning scoreless appearance against Villanova. On the opposing side, TJ Nichols was handed the ball to try and notch another win to his 2-0 start to the season.
The Bears attacked Nichols early, tallying two in the top of the second on a Jag Burden double. The Wildcats would get one run back in the bottom half of the inning, subsequently going on to score in five of the next six innings.
Nichols found his stride after the two earned runs, setting down Cal in order in the third and finishing his night without another runner crossing the plate. His 6.2 innings pitched, two ERs and nine strikeouts set his offense up for success and a 13-2 win.
Saturday’s game consisted of a much closer competition, with back-and-forth lead changes in the beginning and middle innings. Arizona stormed ahead in the first, scoring one on a passed ball and another on a Romero single.
For Cal, Peyton Schulze’s two-RBI single tied up the score in the third, with a Caleb Lomavita double giving the Bears a 4-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning. The Wildcats would go on to score three and take back the lead, never looking back the rest of the way.
Cal did notch on another run in the sixth to make it close, but its efforts turned out to be too little too late.
With games one and two not going their way, the Bears looked to Tucker Bougie to hold the Wildcats’ offense to minimal damage and give the blue and gold lineup a chance to come through. But not even the 6’3” sophomore who sported a 1-0 season record could contain the beast of the Wildcats’ batting order.
Kade Kretzschm and Handron found the long ball power as Cal jumped ahead in the early going, only to lose that lead, regain it and lose it once more. Arizona opened the floodgates after that, closing out a series sweep with a 10-5 victory — earning them another win with double-digit runs on the board.
The Wildcats’ one through nine all contributed in the three-game set, showing the depth of their roster. With this opening performance, they sit atop the Pac-12 standings as the only team undefeated in conference play after the first series.
Looking at the two teams, this series serves as a huge confidence booster for Arizona and its lineup. The headline was Romero, who ended the weekend with nine hits, three homers, nine RBIs and reached base 11 times in 13 PAs. He improved his season batting average from .327 to .417.
On the other hand, the Bears have the week to recuperate and regroup in order to get back on track for the next series against USC at home, in search of their first win against another conference team this season.