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All season long Cal faced a series of seemingly overwhelming odds, some handed to them by outside forces, and some they created themselves. Today the Bears finally dug themselves a hole too big to escape, falling 8-1 to the Virginia Cavaliers. Cal fans held some optimism that the Bears would do more damage against a less heralded Virginia pitcher, but Tyler Wilson turned in an even better performance than Danny Hultzen's World Series opener.
Unlike Sunday's opener, Cal's pitching and defense wasn't able to keep the game close. Virginia certainly earned a number of their base runners, but the Bears handed them a few breaks to make things easier. Three plays in particular stand out: Dixon Anderson's throwing error on a 3rd inning sacrifice bunt attempt that put runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs, Anderson's wild pitch that allowed both runners to advance, and Darrell Matthew's three base error that allowed Kenny Swab to come all the way around the bases after singling.
It's disappointing that the Bears were eliminated without playing their best baseball, but that's the only thing anybody should be disappointed about. Their talent, grit, and effort turned the darkest year of Cal baseball into what must be the single most successful, entertaining season in memory for the vast majority of Bear backers. There's no shame when your season ends in Omaha, particularly when both losses come at the hands of a very deserving #1 team in the nation.
Cal's best chance to grab momentum came when Austin Booker reached on an error to start the bottom of the first. Later in the inning Chadd Krist doubled. Unfortunately, that didn't result in a Cal run because in between Booker was caught stealing after sliding past the bag. I'm on record as being against Cal's risks on the base paths, but for better or for worse that's how this team plays baseball. It likely lost Cal an early run today.
With Erik Johnson and Kyle Porter likely unavailable except in emergencies, and Justin Jones injured, Cal had to get solid performances from either Dixon Anderson or Kevin Miller, preferably both. Unfortunately neither were able to come through, and Coach Esquer probably stuck with Miller a little to long as he got hit hard during the 6th inning. Justin Jones's injury really left no margin for error, but Cal was very error prone today in all phases.
We'll have more on Cal's season later. For now, all I want to say is thanks. Thank you, Cal baseball, for one of the most thrilling, entertaining three weeks of sports I've ever enjoyed. And I'm so happy knowing we'll see you all again next year!