Nothing seemed to go right for the California Golden Bears in their second day of conference play against the Oregon Ducks on March 18. The Bears dropped the game 13-2.
The Bears looked good out of the gate. Right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. hit one to right-center field for a standing double. First baseman Andrew Vaughn followed up, sending a two-run homer over the right field wall and putting the Bears ahead of the Ducks 2-0 at the end of the first inning.
That’s all the scoring Cal would do for the night. Oregon held the Bears at just four hits through nine innings.
The Ducks, on the other hand, had a hot night at the plate, connecting for 15 hits.
Cal’s pitchers struggled to locate the strike zone throughout the game, digging into hitter’s counts and being forced to throw a predictable fastball, Cal Bears Coach David Esquer said.
“We’re pretty count predictable because of just not having control,” he said, explaining that gave Oregon batters “a chance to be successful.”
Freshman Jared Horn got the start on the mound for the Bears, but lasted just 2.1 innings. Horn faced 15 batters and threw 71 pitches in his outing.
Freshman Arman Sabouri and junior Andrew Buckley both came in at relief, respectively, and like Horn, both lasted less than 3 innings.
“We didn’t pitch well enough, Jared is capable of much better,” Esquer said. “Over the course of the last two days, we haven’t pitched at a high enough level to keep the game as close as we needed it to be so that our offense could put ourselves in position to win the game.”
Along with weak pitching, the Bears missed several double-play opportunities in the field.
Most of Oregon’s runs came in the third inning. The Ducks went through their batting order one and a half times and drove nine runs across the plate. The Ducks also tallied one run in the fourth and three in the eighth, bringing the score to 13-2 over the Bears.
Despite the difficult night, Esquer said his team will be back and ready to compete on Sunday.
“I believe that they’re the type of team that they can’t wait to come back out here, and that’s what you want,” he said.
Esquer said there was a lot to learn from this game, and that his young team will improve as the season continues.
“Hey, it’s a steep learning curve, right, a steep learning curve at this level,” he said. “They’ve got to figure out how to compete at that level and come out to the park and play that way.”
The losing pitcher was Horn, while the win went to Oregon’s Matt Mercer. With the loss, the Bears fall to 8-9 on the season. The Bears will face the Ducks in the final game of the home series at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday, March 19.