The Bears keep sliding. Despite a stunning sweep against UCLA, Cal baseball’s struggle against conference opponents resumed this past weekend after dropping two of three games to Washington State. The Cougars, who ranked second-to-last in the Pac-12 prior to playing Cal, now rank eight with an overall record of 29-20. The Bears now rank 10 with a record of 22-25.
Things did not start off well for the blue and gold. Cal sophomore Christian Becerra started his ninth game of the season on Friday night while WSU senior Dakota Hawkins started on the mound for the Cougars.
Washington State dominated Becerra, starting the game with a lead-off solo home run by junior center fielder Jonah Advincula, followed by a two-run home run by sophomore catcher Will Cresswell in the second inning.
After an RBI double by senior designated hitter Jacob McKeon that scored the fourth run of the game, Cal sophomore shortstop Carson Crawford committed his tenth error of the season that allowed WSU sophomore second baseman Elijah Hainline to reach home plate, extending the Cougars’ lead to 5-0.
Becerra’s struggles continued after he gave up a two-run home run to the next batter, Cougar sophomore third baseman Cam Magee. Cal finally responded with a leadoff solo homer by Crawford. The Bears didn’t score again until the bottom of the sixth on a three-run home run by fifth-year right fielder Kade Kretzschmar.
Junior third baseman Max Handron led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo home run to score the fifth Cal run of the game. Despite the Bears’ bats coming alive in the closing innings, it wasn’t enough as the Cougars took the series opener for a final score of 9-5. Friday’s loss marked Becerra’s fourth loss of the season.
Cal was able to bounce back on Saturday afternoon, erupting for 16 runs and 18 hits against Washington State’s pitching.
The Cougars opened up the scoring in the top of the first inning on an RBI single by McKeon that scored Advincula with runners on first and second bases with no outs. After forcing WSU junior right fielder Bryce Matthews to ground into a double play, Cal junior starting pitcher Paulshawn Pasqualotto was able to get out of the jam by striking out Hainline.
The Cougars scored two more runs in the next inning off a bunt single by graduate student left fielder Jake Harvey and Advincula’s double. The Bears responded with two of their own runs in the bottom of the second inning after Kretzschmar scored on a wild pitch and a throwing error by junior shortstop Kyle Russell, also allowing sophomore first baseman Peyton Schulze to score.
The Bears took the lead in their half of the third inning after hitting a pair of three-run home runs by sophomore center fielder Rodney Green Jr. and fellow sophomore second baseman Jack Johnston to cap a seven-run scoring barrage.
Despite giving up nine hits, starter Paulshawn Pasqualotto made a solid outing for the Bears, completing six innings pitched and only giving up three earned runs.
Freshman reliever Austin Turkington did not share the same success, giving up five earned runs on three hits while not recording a single out.
Junior pitcher Tyler Stasiowski was able to pitch the remaining three innings for the Bears, sealing a 16-10 victory to tie the series.
Cal’s offense struggled to remain competitive in the series finale on Sunday afternoon, only scoring one run off of Washington State junior starter Shane Spencer.
The only Cal run was scored after Spencer gave up a solo home run to Schulze in the bottom of the second inning. Spencer went on to pitch seven innings with only one earned run and walk while striking out six batters.
WSU junior first baseman Sam Brown hit two home runs in the game, the first coming from the first pitch of the first inning. The second, a two-run home run, came at the top of the fifth inning.
Each of Cal’s four pitchers performed decently, all allowing only one or two runs during their outings, but it wasn’t enough to win the series as the Bears lost the finale 7-1 to the Cougars.
Looking ahead at the final stretch of the regular season, the Bears’ next scheduled game against Santa Clara was canceled. With Santa Clara sitting at an impressive 28-18, the blue and gold miss out on an opportunity to play against strong competition.
Instead, Cal baseball faithfuls will have to wait until Thursday for more action when the Bears travel to face Washington. In the final series of the regular season, Cal will look to even out its 22-25 record with three wins against Washington.
First pitch against the Huskies is at 7 p.m. on Thursday.