The California Golden Bears had no problem getting runners on base, but couldn’t pull off the win against the Long Beach State Dirtbags on March 27. The Bears dropped their 13th game of the season 3-1.
Cal out hit the Dirtbags 9-6 in the loss, something that has become a pattern for the young Bears team—they have connected for more hits than their opponents in six of their 13 losses. Cal stranded eight runners on base and went just one for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“I think it’s probably the most times in my career that we’ve out hit the opponent, at least three, four, five times, and lost,” Cal Bears Head Coach David Esquer said. “We’re just not getting that extra hit.”
The Dirtbags got on the board early, tallying one run off a throwing error in the first.
Cal threatened in the bottom of the second. Third baseman Denis Karas hit a hard line drive just fair down the third base line for a standing double. Center fielder Jonah Davis laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Karas to third. But the Bears couldn’t bring the run in, designated hitter Tanner Dodson hit a high pop out to shallow left center and Karas couldn’t beat the throw to home, getting tagged at the plate for the third out.
The Bears had another chance with a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the third. Left fielder Max Flower hit a single to left center with one out and then stole second. The Bears ended the inning with a grounder in to an out at first and a strike out swinging.
First baseman Andrew Vaughn sent a ball flying over the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth inning for the Bears’ only run of the game, and his seventh homer of the season.
Another Bears baserunner was stranded on third in the fifth inning. Dodson hit an infield single to lead off the inning. Catcher Tyrus Greene advanced Dodson to second with a sacrifice bunt, and Flower hit a chopper to short, moving Dodson to third with two outs for second baseman Anthony Walters. Walters took a called strike three to end the inning.
The sixth inning saw another Cal runner stranded on third. Right fielder Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. lofted a pop to shallow right field for a one-out single. Vaughn followed up with a grounder through the hole down the left side for base hit, advancing Mitchell to third. Bears cleanup man Karas struck out looking for the second out, and Davis ended the inning with a strikeout swinging.
The Bears held the Dirtbags to just one run through the seventh inning, but Long Beach State bats got going again late in the game, pushing runners across the plate in the eighth and ninth innings, bringing the score to 3-1.
Cal stranded the tying run on first to end the game. Davis led off the inning with a hit in to far left field for a standing double. Tyrus Greene walked, putting runners on first and second with one out for junior Matt Ruff. Ruff struck out swinging for the second out and pinch hitter Conner Bock ended the game with a called strike three.
“We both played the same game, we both had the same opportunities,” Esquer said, explaining the Dirtbags were able to convert opportunities to runs while Cal could not. “It was the same game, they just played it better today.”
The Bears defense also struggled, with four costly errors in the field.
The Dirtbags came in to the March 27 game after sweeping fifth ranked Cal State Fullerton. The Dirtbags have also beat other highly ranked teams, including TCU and UNC. Cal, on the other hand, returned to Berkeley after being swept by UCLA on the road.
Esquer expressed hope for his young Bears team, noting they’re able to put runners on base, they just have to drive those runners home.
“That’s our youth, we’re not good enough in those spots yet,” Esquer said.
The Bears will take on Pac-12 opponent Washington State in a three-game series this weekend at Evans Diamond.