For what it’s worth, it’s still early in the season and the Golden Bears can only go up from here. If that’ll happen remains to be the question.
The young Golden Bears combined to go just 5-for-31 at the plate as they dropped their fifth-straight game, losing 5-2 to Gonzaga at home in Friday night’s series opener. The loss drops their record to just 2-6 in the season.
Jeffrey Mitchell Jr. hit his second home run of the season in the loss while starter Tanner Dodson struggled to receive any run support from his lineup. For the fifth straight game, Cal’s lineup produced just two or less runs, stranding eight on the bases throughout the night, mostly in key situations.
While Cal struggled to get anything going, the Zags made their innings count against Dodson and company.
“We basically played the same game and they just did more with those opportunities,” Cal head coach David Esquer said. “There’s some youth and inexperienced fingerprints on today’s game.”
Cal’s biggest chance to take a lead in the game came in the bottom of the fifth with one away and the Bears down 2-1. With runners at second and third, Andrew Vaughn hit what would’ve been a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game at two apiece. However, despite Jonah Davis scoring from third on the would-be sac-fly, Walters, the trailing runner, was thrown out at second by Zags’ center-fielder Tyler Frost for the inning-ending double play.
“It’s one of those, you’re going to chalk it up to a freshman mistake with the game moving pretty quickly,” Esquer said. “There’s no reason to be in a hurry there.”
The Bears tried to rally in the ninth and loaded the bases with one out, looking for that one big grand slam to tie the game at five, however, they were able to just manage a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Conner Bock to claw back a run, 5-2.
The lack of run support overshadows what was a sloppy, but manageable outing by Dodson. The sophomore right-hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs (one earned) on six hits with five strikeouts on a night where he struggled with his pitches low.
“He’s capable of being way better than he was tonight,” Esquer said.
His counterpart from Gonzaga, Eli Morgan, took the win, pitching seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits with 12 strikeouts.
Vaughn was the only batter with multiple hits for Cal, going 2-for-4 on the night.
Gonzaga left fielder Sam Brown went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBI.
Both teams return to Evans Diamond on Saturday for a double-header, starting at 12:05 p.m. and the second at 4:05 p.m.