This is not the strong finish to the season that Cal Baseball was looking for as the Bears drop the season finale series opener 4-1 at Washington State Cougars.
PULLMAN, Wash. – A run in the fourth and three runs in the fifth gave host Washington State a lead and the Cal baseball team couldn’t make up enough ground to stage a comeback as the Bears dropped a 4-1 decision to start the final series of the 2016 regular season.
Good starting pitching provided the story line through the first three innings as Cal’s Tanner Dodson and Washington State’s Damon Jones traded zeroes in the early stages of the game. Each pitcher reached that stage in the game in a different fashion, as Dodson stranded a pair of Washington State runners twice while Jones cruised through the first third of the game with only one hit allowed.
On the bright side, senior Ryan Mason and junior Daulton Jefferies will likely be the Cal starters for the last two games of the series. Seeing those guys pitch (likely one last time in the Cal uniform) is reason enough to tune in.
Despite having a College World Series level talent veteran squad, Cal Baseball may be playing their final three games of the 2016 season this weekend. Losing 2 out of 3 games last weekend, particularly in heartbreaking fashion on Monday, to a very good (but has a terrible RPI and a losing record despite leading the Pac-12) Utah Utes have dropped the Bears from a RPI of 50's to nearly 70's. Bears will end the regular season at best with a RPI in the 70's due to the terrible RPI of Washington State (we get punished for just facing them).
Postseason implications aside, this can actually be a very fun swan song for a large contingent of Cal Baseball regulars that are either graduating or leaving via the draft (technically, they can be drafted and then negotiate with MLB teams by threatening to come back to school). Cal Baseball regulars like Mitchell Kranson, Ryan Mason (today's starter), Nick Halamandaris, Devon Pearson, Brian Farney, Brian Celsi, and Keaton Siomkin are all seniors.
Draft eligible guys like junior Daulton Jefferies (Cal ace who is finally back and will start on Saturday) and sophomore (who is eligible due to age) Brett Cumberland (likely Pac-12 Player of the Year) are expected to go in the top 2 rounds and likely gone. Despite having a mediocre season, Aaron Knapp may also be drafted due to his talent alone.
My not so bold prediction is that this weekend will be a repeat of the Northwestern series two weekends ago. I expect the Bears to dominate this series and then find themselves ranked in the 20's or 30's in the human polls to make the NCAA committee think about putting us in the postseason (before they realized that we're Cal and not a bigger name program).
Pac-12 Networks did a feature story with tonight's starter Ryan Mason. Be sure to check this out below if you missed it.
Where: Bailey-Brayton Field (Pullman, WA)
When: 4 PM PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Probable pitching matchup: Cal's RHP Ryan Mason (7-4, 3.26 ERA) vs. Wazzu's LHP Damon Jones (1-2, 5.59 ERA)