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Cal Baseball 4, Arizona State 6 - Cal drops series opener for the first time in 2016

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For the first time in 2016, the Bears have lost the series opener.

Cal Baseball's No.42 will take the hill on a day when every MLB player is wearing No.42 to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.
Cal Baseball's No.42 will take the hill on a day when every MLB player is wearing No.42 to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.
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Welp, the Bears' come back fell short on Friday night. For the first time all season, the Bears have lost the opener to a series.

Ryan Mason had some trouble in the 3rd inning, which allowed the Sun Devils to go ahead 6-1. The Bears cut into that lead but fell short in the end.

CalBears.com Recap:

PHOENIX – The No. 15 Golden Bears (20-10, 8-5 Pac-12) rallied late, but eventually fell to the Arizona State Sun Devils (19-12, 5-8 Pac-12) 6-4 on Friday night at Phoenix Municipal Stadium to open a three-game set. The Bears fell behind 6-1 in the third inning, after a four-run frame carried the Sun Devils to the series-opening victory. Cal came back through a sixth inning solo shot by senior Nick Halamandaris and a 2-for-3 night by junior second baseman Robbie Tenerowicz, who had a pair of doubles and two RBI.

The series continues at noon on Saturday. This game is again on Pac-12 Networks.

Interestingly, the previously announced starter for game 2 is Eder Erives, the same guy who got the 4 out saves tonight. Maybe the Sun Devils has sacrificed some of their chances in the rest of this series to make sure that they get at least one tonight.

GO BEARS!

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California Golden Bears (20-9, 8-4 in Pac-12) at Arizona State Sun Devils (18-12, 4-8 in Pac-12)

Where: Phoenix Municipal (Phoenix, AZ)

When: 7 pm PT

TV: Pac-12 Networks

Radio: KALX

Probably pitching matchup: RHP Ryan Mason (5-1, 2.26 ERA) vs. RHP Seth Martinez (4-3, 1.79 ERA)

First of all, it is not a good sign that Daulton Jefferies has completely disappeared from the weekly CalBears.com note. The hope remains that his "lower body injury" that has been described as a "calf" injury in some MLB draft previews is still minor and Jefferies will be back at some point soon to help the Golden Bears win the Pac-12 and beyond.

Without Jefferies, we will again have senior Ryan Mason to set the tone for the series today. Bears have been undefeated in series opener all season long, whether if the game is started by Daulton Jefferies or Ryan Mason, on a Thursday or on a Friday. They will certainly love to keep that streak alive.

Cal sophomore catcher Brett Cumberland is still the Pac-12 leader in all of the important offensive category. His triple crown leading batting average of 0.398 (yes, it has dropped below 0.400 now) is still ahead of the 0.381 of USC's David Oppenheim, 10 homeruns is still 4 ahead of Oregon's A.J. Balta (who hit a couple against the Bears last weekend to now have 6), and 31 RBIs are 3 ahead of Oregon State's K.J. Harrison. Cumberland's OBP of 0.525 and SLG of 0.785 are even more impressive.

Overall, the Cal offense had a good series up in Eugene last week, even if extra base hits and timely hits were a bit hard to come by, particularly in the losses of Saturday and Sunday. Bears are coming off a midweek 7-1 win over Cal Poly at SLO. Clutch two out, two run singles by Aaron Knapp and Brett Cumberland in the decisive 4th inning gave the Bears an early lead that they never gave up.

On Jackie Robinson Day across ballparks in MLB, it is perhaps appropriate that Cal's very own No.42, Ryan Mason, will start tonight's game. Mason has thrown two complete games out of his three past starts. The 23 wins by the senior in his Cal career has him currently tied for 6th best all time (with David Cash). Mason has also upped his strikeouts this season to improve his stock as a MLB prospect. He is merely two strikeouts away from tying his career best.

While the starting pitching has been pretty consistent for the Bears, even including probably Saturday and Sunday starters in sophomores Jeff Bain and Matt Ladrech, the bullpen has been an issue as of late. Sophomore Erik Martinez has hit a rough patch on the year. After being lights out all season long, EMar has been tagged for multiple runs in his last three outings, dating back to his save in the UCLA game finale. Senior Keaton Siomkin, the other reliable reliever for the Bears early on, also struggled up in Eugene. I suspect that David Esquer will keep on relying on these guys, but hopefully whatever ailed them had stayed up in Oregon.

In the quest for the Pac-12 title, the Bears are still in first place in a tie with Utah. Playing less conference games so far, Stanford actually now leads in the loss column. Bears will of course play a series down at The Farm later on the year (the upcoming game this Tuesday at Evans Diamond is yet another non-conference game).

CONFERENCE OVERALL LAST GAME NEXT GAME
California 8-4-0 20-9-0 W7-1 CP @ 4/15Pac-12 Networks
Utah 8-4-0 11-18-0 L3-14 BYU VS 4/15Pac-12 Mountain
Stanford 6-3-0 18-9-0 W10-0 SJSU @ 4/15Arizona Live Stream-3
Oregon State 6-4-0 23-7-0 vs WSU @ 4/15Pac-12 Networks
Washington 7-5-0 17-11-0 W12-4 SEA VS 4/15Pac-12 Networks
USC 5-4-0 15-16-0 L2-3 PEPP @ 4/15Oregon Live Stream
Oregon 4-5-0 14-12-0 vs PORT VS 4/15Oregon Live Stream
Arizona 5-7-0 20-13-0 L5-7 ASU VS 4/15Arizona Live Stream-3
UCLA 5-7-0 14-16-0 W6-5 LMU @ 4/15Pac-12 Networks
Arizona State 4-8-0 18-12-0 W7-5 ARIZ VS 4/15Pac-12 Networks
Washington State 3-10-0 10-20-0 vs ORST VS 4/15Pac-12 Networks

Arizona State has only won one Pac-12 series all season long, and it came against the lowly Washington State. They were swept by Oregon State in the opener. Then proceed to drop two out of three against both Utah and Washington.

Colby Woodmansee is the clear statistical team leader on offense, hitting 0.362 with 4 homers and 27 RBI's. David Greer, who is batting 0.348, is their leader in runs with 27. The two of these guys gets on base with the average of 0.441 and 0.442 but the Sun Devils as a team is only getting on base at a 0.342 clip. For comparison, the Bears' OBP is 0.372.

Friday starter Seth Martinez has a nice ERA of 1.79 despite a mediocre 4-3 record. He has allowed 5 unearned runs behind him, indicating that the Sun Devils defense may help the Bears out a bit this series.

In other Cal Baseball news:

Bears have added a new signee to the 9 from the fall.

GO BEARS!