Great pitching, web gem, clutch hit...all of those and more were in the 14 inning thriller that was a 2-1 Cal victory over a very good Texas A&M squad.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in T1 against Ryan Mason, but Mason bent but not break the rest of the way to hold the Aggies to just that one run in 8 innings. Bears were able to tie the game up at 1-1 but could not get a base hit with runners in scoring position. After the Bears wasted numerous golden chances, Aggies' reliever Hendrix finally got in a groove in the extra innings. For the Bears on the mound, senior Dylan Nelson was solid for 3 innings (9-11) and got a huge assist from Brian Celsi when Celsi robbed A&M's Banks for a two run homer.
Cal's Brian Celsi robs a home run in the 11th inning... and Texas A&M can't believe it! #RoadToOmaha http://t.co/DPmbP7QJCl— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) May 31, 2015
Senior Chris Muse-Fisher had a bit of control issue but freshman Erik Martinez (the lone underclassmen on the mound for the Bears today) was able to work out some troubles.
That set the table for the bottom of the 14th, with Hendricks still on the mound for the Aggies...
Mitchell Kranson (aka El Gaucho) says GOODNIGHT! #RoadToOmaha #WalkOff http://t.co/bH2dR7efKx— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) May 31, 2015
BOOM! The Bears are in the Regional Final at 4 PM PT on Sunday night (on SEC Networks and ESPN3) against a team (either Coastal Carolina or Texas A&M that will be playing their 2nd game of the day). Should the Bears falter on Sunday night, they will get another chance to advance on Monday night.
Here is the postgame press conference:
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!
California Golden Bears (35-19, Tied for 3rd in Pac-12) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (46-11, 2nd in SEC)
When: 4 PM PT (if the weather is good)
Current thoughts for @Aggie_Baseball vs @Cal_Baseball tomorrow. Things can change, no need to adjust plans just yet pic.twitter.com/afAaHrgIoD— Shel Winkley (@KBTXShel) May 30, 2015
Probable Pitching Matchup: RHP Ryan Mason (6-3, ERA of 3.18)for Cal vs. RHP Grayson Long (9-0, ERA of 2.62) for Texas A&M
Things do not get easier for the Bears after a Friday 9-3 win over the regional 2nd seed in Coastal Carolina. Top seed and the clear favorite to advance, Texas A&M Aggies, will be the Bears' opponent today after they defeated Texas Southern 5-0 on the second game of the Regional.
As head coach David Esquer said in the post-game press conference, he's going with junior Ryan Mason for this pivotal game 2. Mason, at his best, is a groundball pitcher who has yet to allowed a homer on the year. He will have a tall order to continue that homerless streak against a very good Texas A&M offense.
Since his freshman year, Ryan Mason has been a pitcher that David Esquer count on in key situations. Mason served both as the closer and then the Friday starter in his freshman year. He's the veteran of the Cal rotation and perhaps the best choice to go against an experience squad like A&M.
About our enemy of the day (from the D1Baseball.com College Station Regional Preview):
Best Pitcher: Grayson Long, rhp, Texas A&M. There are some talented arms in this regional, for instance, California sophomore righthander Daulton Jefferies can shutdown anyone. However, you have to go with Long, who has a physical build, a newfound mean streak on the mound, and also has a 89-92 mph fastball, along with a quality slider and changeup, both low-80s offerings.
Long has 100 K in 82 IP against just 37 walks. He's a MLB prospect but may not even be the staff ace had the Aggies not lost two other potential aces to injuries. He would certainly be a tough challenge for the Bears' hitters.
For the A&M offense (more from D1baseball.com):
Aggies possessing a potent offense that enters the weekend hitting .312. Mitchell Nau (.376/4/46) leads the Aggies in the batting average department, while Nick Banks (.370/5/40), Logan Taylor (.358/10/46) and Blake Allemand (.356/5/34) are the primary other hitters to watch. Banks has a silky smooth swing and can deposit the ball to all fields, Taylor has big-time power potential and is A&M’s biggest surprise this season, and Allemand has been terrific the last month of the season, recently showing off power potential with two homers off Vanderbilt ace righthander Carson Fulmer. Also keep close tabs on second baseman Ryne Birk. Birk’s .292 batting average might be deceiving considering he’s been much more consistent here the past couple of weeks, and is hitting with a bit more power.
Banks also made a great diving catch in Texas A&M's win over Texas Southern. The game would have been tied at 2-2 had Banks not made that play with the bases loaded and two outs.
While this may look like a pitchers' duel on paper (I trust Mason's ability to keep the Aggies in check), anything can happen in one baseball game. It should be exciting to see whether our Bears can continue to rise to the challenge against a top team, like they have done this year in Pac-12 play. It should be an exciting one.
That feeling when the weekend is coming in just a few hours pic.twitter.com/oU82JGv7vz— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) May 29, 2015
Regardless of the game result, the Bears will play for either their survival or a spot in the Super Regional on Sunday. Esquer will likely go with freshman lefty Matt Ladrech in that game. As hinted in the postgame presser yesterday, a potential 4th game on Monday may see another freshman in righty Jeff Bain as the Cal starter. Bain was used for an out on Friday.