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Golden Diamonds: 3rd straight Pac-12 series win for Cal Baseball; Vaughn up to 16 homers

Cal Softball were swept in the rain abbreviated 2-game series by No.1 Washington. Some MLB Bears news updates.

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We are down to the final 20 and 14 games of the regular season for Cal Baseball and Cal Softball, respectively. Both teams still have a strong shot to make the postseason, although there are plenty of work to be done yet.

Cal Baseball (21-13, 7-8 in Pac-12)

Good news is that the Golden Bears won their 3rd consecutive Pac-12 series last week by taking 2 out of 3 from Washington State. Bad news is that Washington State has a woeful RPI of 175 and the Bears also lost the midweek game to Santa Clara who has a RPI of 204 (after beating Cal). The Santa Clara loss alone dropped the Bears from a RPI of 95 to 115. I guess the optimistic news is that the rest of the Cal schedule has a pretty healthy RPI with the exception of Sacramento State (just 1 game) and Arizona State (season finale). The pessimistic news is that this also means that the Golden Bears will have a tough last third of the regular season. Nonetheless, continuing to win series should be enough for the Bears to earn a postseason berth. Coming up this weekend are the Washington Huskies.

Before we get to the Huskies, the Golden Bears continued this year’s trend of a lot of hitting, only having a handful of reliable pitchers, and the dreadful trend of making too many mistakes on the field.

5 more errors in the 4 games turned into 3 more unearned runs, including 2 (the margin) in the midweek Santa Clara loss.

Cal 13, Washington State 6

A 6-run 2nd inning allowed Cal senior lefty Matt Ladrech to cruise in this series opening win. Ladrech did encounter some trouble in the 7th inning, but the Bears had already build up a 10-2 lead before allowing 3 runs then. Golden Bears also managed to score 13 runs without hitting any homers. Both Tanner Dodson and Darren Baker had 3 hits to lead the Bears.

Cal 6, Washington State 3

Sophomore ace Jared Horn returned to the win column with a strong outing (6 IP, 2 Earned Runs, 4 K). Bears had a 4-run 4th, with the big hit being Baker’s 2-run double. This was game 1 of a double header. Dodson got the save for the Bears.

Cal 3, Washington State 4 (10 innings)

Bears fell just short of a series sweep. Aaron Shortridge had a strong start in this pitcher’s duel but the Bears had 3-1 lead going to the 7th inning stretch (Baker again with the 2-run single). Unfortunately, Shortridge did not have a shutdown inning in allowing the Cougars to tie the game right back up. Zayne Patino eventually allowed the game winning hit with two outs in the 10th inning to JJ Hancock.

Cal 4, Santa Clara 6

Rogelio Reyes had another poor outing like last week. Unlike last week, the Golden Bears could not hit 5 homers to come back in this one. Jonah Davis and Andrew Vaughn went deep, but it was the 5th inning that started with two errors (turning into two unearned runs) that really hurt. Santa Clara even used their Friday pitcher (aka best pitcher) to close this rare win out for them.

Your weekly update on the phenomenal Andrew Vaughn season:

Vaughn had a quiet Washington State series, hitting merely 2 for 14, including a rare 0 for 4 in the lone loss. He rebounded back in Berkeley with a 4 for 5 game against Santa Clara, blasting his 16th homer of the year.

Season total:

0.423 (Batting Average), 0.562 (On Base Percentage), 0.886 (Slugging Percentage) - 16 homers, 42 RBI, 40 Runs scored, 29 walks to just 12 strikeouts

On deck:

Washington Huskies (17-15, 8-4 in Pac-12) has a RPI of 51. They have won all of their Pac-12 series thus far with the exception of only taking 1 out of 3 from the Oregon State Beavers.

The Huskies are similar to the Bears with respect to the amount of errors and unearned runs allowed. Huskies have made 32 errors for 25 unearned runs. Bears have made 39 errors for 32 unearned runs.

Unlike the Bears, Huskies have only hit 11 homeruns as a team. That’s 5 less than Andrew Vaughn alone and nearly matched by Jonah Davis’ 9. Their team only bats 0.255 which is well below the Bears’ Pac-12 leading team batting average of 0.309.

The Huskies do have a slightly stronger pitching staff than the Bears though. The team ERA is 3.41 with 231 K and 99 BB in 290 IP and just 23 homeruns allowed. Bears have a team ERA of 4.22 with 278 K and 125 BB in 304.2 IP and the same 23 homeruns allowed.

Friday - 7:05 pm PT

Matt Ladrech (5-3, 4.75 ERA, 34 K in 60 IP) vs. Lucas Knowles (2-3, 3.80 ERA, 32 K in 45 IP)

Saturday - 4:05 pm PT

Jared Horn (4-4, 5.26 ERA, 44 K in 49.2 IP) vs. Joe DeMers (3-1, 1.56 ERA, 50 K in 57.2 IP)

DeMers tossed the Huskies’ first perfect game in history earlier this year.

Sunday - 12:05 pm PT

Aaron Shortridge (2-1, 2.60 ERA, 51 K in 52 IP) vs. Jordan Jones (4-3, 3.17 ERA, 43 K in 54 IP)

All three games will be on the Pac-12 Networks.

Cal Softball (26-13, 1-10 in Pac-12)

Despite that terrible Pac-12 record, Cal Softball remain ranked within the top 25 in the human polls. Rain in Seattle meant that the Bears only played 2 against the top ranked Washington Huskies. After one close contest, the Bears also suffered the first “run rule” loss of the year in the 2nd game that the Huskies “walk off” in 6 innings.

Nonetheless, the Bears still have a very healthy RPI of 33, thanks to the strong Pac-12 schedule and not dropping too many out-of-conference games this year.

Rain turned the three game series into essentially a doubleheader, finishing the suspended scoreless game 1 from the day before and a full game.

Cal 1, Washington 3

Taran Alvelo and Zoe Conley were in a scoreless duel in this one before the rain halted play for a day. On the restart, Huskies took advantage of 3 unearned run to beat the Bears.

Cal 1, Washington 9 (6 innings)

Lindsay Rood went 3 for 3 but she was lone Bear to have success against the Huskies’ freshman Gabbie Plain. Huskies scored 4 runs in B6 to make this a run rule win. Conley was likely gassed in relief of Dung in this clear worst loss of the season.

On deck:

Bears will host the Utah Utes (20-19, 2-10 in Pac-12) this weekend. This is a golden opportunity for the Bears to win their first Pac-12 series of the year. Both of Utah’s Pac-12 wins came against Stanford, arguably the worst team in the Pac in recent years as they slowly recover from that program’s scandal.

Even with the Utes having a similar RPI as the Bears (they are 38th), I expect a big series this weekend for the home team. Cal’s pitching tandem of Kamalani Dung and Zoe Conley should dominate while the Cal offense may finally have a long overdue Pac-12 outburst in one of the game.

Both of the Utes’ primary pitchers in Miranda Viramontes and Katie Donovan (both seniors) have ERA over 3. All of the non-freshmen saw them last year (although the Utes won both games of the rain shorten series from Salt Lake City).

Offensively, there are some similarity between Cal and Utah. The Utes bat 0.290/0.356/0.433 as a team. Senior Heather Bowen hit 7 of the team’s 21 homers on the year. Cal on the other hand bats 0.292/0.367/0.437 as a team. Bears’ 23 team homers are led by sophomore Bradie Fillmore and freshman Mikayala Coehlo with 5 apiece.

Bears may have the edge on the basepath though. Junior Lindsay Rood is leading the Pac-12 with 22 SBs. She and senior Jazmyn Jackson are the team’s best batters and sit at the top of the order.

Friday - 3 pm PT

Saturday - 1 pm PT

Sunday - 1 pm PT

All three games will be livestreamed online.

I see the home field and better pitching allowing the Golden Bears to triple their Pac-12 win total by the end of this weekend (if not quadruple).

Cal in MLB news

After opening the year with just 4 Golden Bears on the MLB roster, Mark Canha rejoined the list of MLB Bears when he was called up by the Oakland A’s last weekend; he has been playing quite well, while sporting a ninja look.

Former Cal pitcher Erik Johnson, who made his MLB debut with the Chicago White Sox before being traded to the San Diego Padres in the James Shield deal, is on the mend after missing all of last year to recover from a Tommy John surgery. He will start rehabbing in AA.

Playing in the two-game Puerto Rico series with the Twins, reliever Trevor Hildenberger was part of the Twins contingent that visited a San Juan Children’s hospital.

On the negative side, the number of Cal alumni managing in the MLB has just been halved (from 2 to 1). Alum Bryan Price (who took over the Reds 4 years ago from Dusty Baker - current Cal parent) has been fired for the bad Cincinnati Reds start. Outside of Joey Votto, that Reds team is lacking in talent.