Cal baseball pulled an upset this past weekend, sweeping UCLA in a crucial conference series that snapped a six-game losing streak. This marks the first time the Bears swept the Bruins since 1991 — and any opponent in a series this season.
The Bears will have a chance to get their record above .500 as they welcome Washington State for the last home conference series of the regular season, starting on Friday night. The Bears hold a 10-9 record at home.
The Washington State Cougars recently lost their weekend series against the Washington Huskies, dropping two out of three games. They enter this weekend’s series with an impressive 27-19 overall record, but rank 10th in the Pac-12 standings with an 8-15 conference record.
The Bears look to continue their strong offensive performance after collectively hitting .347 and scoring 28 runs, 12 of which were home runs, against the Bruins.
Junior third baseman Max Handron highlighted the Bears’ offense this weekend by getting a total of six hits and eight RBIs. He hit a home run every game against the Bruins, including a two-homer game during the series finale, and had a batting average of .375 throughout the entire series.
The Bears’ offense should once again rely on the core of its lineup for run support, with sophomore catcher Caleb Lomavita and sophomore center fielder Rodney Green Jr. also hitting home runs on multiple days. The duo combined for 11 hits and five home runs against the Bruins.
Fifth-year right fielder Kade Kretzschmar looks to continue his impressive hot streak this weekend against the Cougars, coming off a weekend where he hit at around .308 with two RBIs against UCLA.
Senior designated hitter Dom Souto and sophomore shortstop Carson Crawford each knocked solo home runs against the Bruins.
With a weeklong break, it’s safe to assume that Cal will be sending out its usual starting three pitchers for series games: sophomore Christian Becerra, junior Paulshawn Pasqualotto and sophomore Connor Sullivan. All three pitched in Los Angeles.
Since March 3, 2000, Washington State and Cal have played each other 64 times, with Cal winning 38 of those matchups. Cal won the last game played between the two teams on April 16, 2022, and has a two-game win streak against the Cougars.
Whereas the Bears seem to be regaining momentum, the Cougars seem to be falling off. In its last 10 games played, Washington State has only won four. Only one of those wins was against a conference opponent — last Friday, when the Cougars narrowly beat Washington 2-1.
The Cougars’ leadoff hitter, junior centerfielder Jonah Advincula, was cold this weekend, only recording one hit in 10 at-bats against the Huskies with no RBIs.
Senior designated hitter Jacob McKeon and junior first baseman Sam Brown, who leads the team in hits (61) and RBIs (49), could be the Cougars’ most reliable bats, with both players getting four hits in 10 or more at-bats the past series.
The Cougars are statistically the better offensive team: They’ve scored almost 50 more runs than the Bears and outhit them by almost 70. The Cougars’ batting average is also above .290, while Cal’s team average doesn’t even hit .260. That being said, the Bears have excelled at hitting the long ball, hitting 24 more home runs than the Cougars this season.
Both teams have similar pitching stats, with Washington State having a lower ERA by only a 0.01 difference. Cal pitchers have given up fewer hits and earned runs to opposing bats, but have allowed six more home runs than the Cougars.
The first pitch for Friday’s series opener is set for 6:05 p.m. at Evans Diamond.