Pac-12 conference play has not been kind to Cal. The blue and gold started the season hot, boasting an 8-3 in non-conference games with a seemingly revitalized squad.
When early March rolled around, however, conference matchups cooled off a scorching and confident Bears lineup. Cal proceeded to drop four straight Pac-12 series against Arizona, USC, Oregon State, and most recently, Arizona State.
The series against Arizona saw the Bears fail to come out on top in a single game, while the following three matchups displayed a pattern of managing to take away just a single win. With April underway, the Bears sit second to last in conference standings with a 3-9 record.
The series against the Sun Devils displayed the same occurrences the Bears have had in Pac-12 play throughout all of March.
Friday saw Cal lose 1-4, with Arizona State bombarding Bears’ pitching with 14 hits. The Sun Devils scored two runs each in the fifth and sixth innings, while the blue and gold managed to chip away at a four run deficit with a sac fly by Peyton Schulze in the bottom of the sixth.
Cal managed to get the game tying run in the bottom of the ninth, yet failed to push through, as the lineup was limited to just three hits. The Bears also went 0-for-14 with runners on base.
Saturday’s matchup proved to be another tight battle. Cal jumped out to a three run lead in the bottom of the first, thanks to a three-run home run by outfielder Rodney Green Jr.
It was the sixth home run of the season for Green Jr., who continued to lead the team offensively. The sophomore holds a .275 batting average, .903 OPS and a .538 slugging percentage in 23 games played so far this year.
The Sun Devils managed to come back, however, tagging four runs of their own in the top of the fifth on Cal pitcher Paulshawn Pasqualotto.
A fielder’s choice RBI by Carson Crawford in the eighth inning tied the game up at four all. Then, in walk-off fashion, fifth-year outfielder Kade Kretzschmar blasted a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bears their third win of Pac-12 play this season.
The bullpen also played a major role in keeping the game close, as Joe Williams, Chris Stamos, Daniel Colwell and Tucker Bougie combined to pitch five scoreless innings after Pasqualotto’s departure.
Whereas the first two games of the series displayed excellent pitching performances, the last matchup against Arizona State proved to be an offensive battle.
Cal held an 8-6 lead heading into the top of the eighth inning, until chaos struck the Bears. The Sun Devils erupted for a nine-run inning, coming back after being down most of the game to win 15-10.
Arizona State ended the night with 19 hits, while the Bears had 11 of their own. Peyton Schulze, Carson Crawford and Max Handon all highlighted the scoring with home runs of their own, respectively.
The eighth inning displayed a recurring problem for the Bears – pitching. Cal needed four pitchers just to get out of the inning alone.
Cal continues Pac-12 conference play against Bay Area rival Stanford at Evans Diamond starting Apr. 6.