The Golden Bears have 6 more games to make a statement that they belong in the NCAA postseason. After demolishing a very very terrible Northwestern Wildcats team in a 4 game series last weekend, the Bears will wrap their regular seasons against two low RPI Pac-12 teams in Utah Utes and Washington State Cougars.
In case you missed it, Cal Baseball completely outclassed Northwestern Wildcats in a 4 game series this past weekend. Given an odd number of baseball teams in the Pac (Colorado has no team), each week, a Pac team has to play a non-conference opponent. Who knew that a B1G opponent like the Wildcats would be so so bad. Bears set a whole bunch of offensive records and 59-5 overall through 4 games. In the process, the Bears actually managed to drop one spot in the RPI because Northwestern is so awful.
With just 6 games remaining, the Golden Bears are 53rd in RPI but much higher in the human polls. The rout of Northwestern should help with the human polls and since this is not NCAA Men's Basketball, maybe the Bears will get a pass despite a mediocre RPI (mainly due to the recent slide). Check out the latest RPI here.
Northwestern are 265 in RPI (out of only 300 Division 1 baseball teams), so beating them in 4 games didn't really help. Only fellow B1G team Purdue is worse amongst the Power Five conference teams.
Bears have games remaining against Utah who has a RPI of 118 (and a losing record despite leading the Pac) and Washington State (166, by far the worst in the Pac).
Should the Bears win 4 or 5 of the remaining games, we are probably still looking at a top 60 RPI. That and the reputation should be enough to get the Bears an at-large bid. I am not sure a 3-3 finish will get the job done.
This Utah Utes series is particularly interesting in that the Bears may be in position to actually create an extra at-large bid for the postseason. Let's take a quick glance at the Pac-12 Baseball standings before this weekend.
|TEAMS||CONFERENCE||OVERALL||LAST GAME||NEXT GAME|
|Utah||15-9-0||21-25-0||W8-1 BYU||@ 5/21Pac-12 Networks|
|Washington||14-10-0||29-18-0||W4-2 UNCO||VS 5/20Washington Live Stream-2|
|Arizona||15-12-0||32-18-0||L1-5 ASU||@ 5/20Pac-12 Networks|
|Arizona State||13-11-0||31-17-0||vs USD||@ 5/20|
|Oregon||12-12-0||26-22-0||W15-4 PORT||VS 5/20Pac-12 Networks|
|USC||12-12-0||24-25-0||W8-3 UCI||VS 5/20Pac-12 Networks|
|Oregon State||11-13-0||30-18-0||L3-6 ORE||@ 5/20Pac-12 Networks|
|California||11-13-0||29-18-0||vs NW||VS 5/21Pac-12 Networks|
|Stanford||11-13-0||26-21-0||W3-1 UCD||@ 5/20Washington Live Stream-2|
|UCLA||11-13-0||24-26-0||L3-4 UCSB||VS 5/20|
|Washington State||10-17-0||17-30-0||L2-10 MCNS||VS 5/20WSU Live Stream|
With a losing record (AKA not eligible for an at-large bid), Utah Utes are somehow leading the conference with a 15-9 record. Should the Bears be able to win this series, they will guarantee that the Utes will have a losing streak and possibly deny them of the automatic berth given to the winner of the Pac.
Clearly, a way to interpret the Utes' weekend success is that they have a couple great pitcher but not much depth beyond them. Should the Bears find a way to beat their ace in game 1 and force the Utes to use that pen, things could just snowball for the Utes.
Saturday night's game is also Senior Night for the Bears. In addition to some key seniors graduating in pitcher Ryan Mason, 3B/C Mitchell "El Gaucho" Kranson, Devin Pearson, reliever Keaton Siomkin, etc., the Bears may also lose draft eligible junior in ace Daulton Jefferies (who is projected to be a late 1st round, 2nd round pick in the MLB June draft) and draft eligible sophomore (due to age) in Brett Cumberland (also projected to be a 2nd rounder right now).
It is hard to not look at this season as a competitive window closing on Cal Baseball. It would be a shame if we stumbled our ways out of a postseason berth. There are just enough time (and bad enough competition) for the Bears to seize the moment.
Saturday - RHP Ryan Mason (7-2, 2.47 ERA) vs. RHP Jayson Rose (7-5, 2.48 ERA)
Sunday - RHP Tanner Dodson (3-4, 3.04 ERA) vs. RHP Dalton Carroll (5-6, 4.86 ERA)
Monday - TBA vs. LHP Josh Lapiana (3-5, 4.08 ERA)
I don't know how realistic it is for us to think that Daulton Jefferies might just get back in time for the home finale. That would certainly be sweet. Fortunately for us Cal fans, all the remaining regular season games are on the Pac-12 Networks. We can all bare witness this potential late surge.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!
California Golden Bears (29-18, 11-13 in Pac-12) vs. Utah Utes (21-25, 15-9 in Pac-12)
Where: Evans Diamond (Berkeley, CA)
When: 7 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Probably pitching matchup: RHP Ryan Mason (7-2, 2.47 ERA) vs. RHP Jayson Rose (7-5, 2.48 ERA)