Andrew Vaughn is very very good at hitting the baseball
Baseball is a game of failure. Even great players in baseball fail more often than not. When you fail to get on base 6 out of 10 times, you are a future Hall of Famer. Cal sophomore first baseball Andrew Vaughn is rewriting how you would define success in baseball; he is getting on base successfully 6 times out of 10 chances through 26 games so far with that 0.598 OBP being the best in all of college baseball. More than that, Vaughn is batting 0.467 which is 3rd in all of NCAA and slugging an insane 1.011 percentage (2nd in NCAA) thanks to his 14 homers (tied with two other players to lead all of college baseball). With numbers like that, it is not surprising that Vaughn is named to PGCollegeBall’s midseason All-American (Illinois Bren Spilane is their hitter of the year candidate - he is putting up Vaughn-esque numbers, including the 14 homers — Spilane is Vaughn’s main competition for Player of the Year honors).
With his compact and easy stroke, Vaughn has already surpassed the 12 homers total that he hit as a freshman - good for the top mark in the Pac-12. Vaughn has power to all field, often hitting his homers to deep center where it would be out-of-the-park regardless of the stadium. Turning 20 on Tuesday this week, Vaughn is not eligible for the MLB draft until after his junior year. How much better can he get before his Cal career is over?
If you have been following Cal Baseball, you have been spoiled by Vaughn’s success. It is shocking now when he does make a rare out. If you have not been following Cal Baseball, their games will be on the Pac-12 Networks starting tonight. 14 of the remaining 28 regular season games on the Pac-12 Networks and all other games with the possible exception of the Creighton series will be streamed.
With 14 homers so far (2 last week - 1 midweek, 1 weekend), can Vaughn get to 30 homers on the year? We are at nearly the halfway point of the regular season with the Golden Bears likely candidate to make the postseason (though there is plenty of work to do in the 2nd half) which would be another 6-10 games. Maybe it’s an ego thing, but teams are still pitching to Vaughn. We will keep you up to dated on Vaughn’s chase of 31+ homers, a feat that has only happened 20 times in college history - with some guy by the name of Kris Bryant being the last to hit 31 homers back in 2013 in 62 games.
Cal Baseball (16-10, 3-6 in Pac-12) took 2 of 3 from UCLA, hosts Utah this weekend
Coming off Pac-12 series losses at Oregon (won just 1 out of 3) and vs. No. 1 Oregon State (got swept), Golden Bears were desperate for a big home series win last week. Thanks to some strong pitching from the upperclassmen - senior Matt Ladrech and juniors Aaron Shortridge and Tanner Dodson, as well as more great hitting from the likes of Andrew Vaughn (6 for 13 with 1 homer and 6 RBI) and Jonah Davis (5 for 9 with 1 homer and 4 RBI), Cal Baseball got a much needed series win by taking the opening and the rubber game of the 3-game series.
Cal 5, UCLA 2
Senior lefty Matt Ladrech had his 2nd consecutive great outing (he won the finale of the Oregon series the previous Sunday) for the Bears by going 6 innings with just 2 runs allowed. Using a variety of breaking pitches to keep the Bruins off balance, Ladrech allowed the 4 run spot by the Bears in the 4th inning stand up. A UCLA solo homer off Ladrech knocked him out of the 7th inning, but Zayne Patino and Tanner Dodson (5th save) prevented futher damage.
Cal 2, UCLA 4
Jonah Davis had a solo homer to put the Bears ahead but sophomore ace Jared Horn allowed a two-run shot from Bruins’ centerfielder Daniel Amaral. Amaral also robbed the Bears of a potential tying solo homer. Bruins tagged on two runs off Patino late and Zach Pettway improves to 5-0 on the year for the Baby Bears.
Cal 8, UCLA 3
After an early two-run homer from Andrew Vaughn, Aaron Shortridge was dealing in a tight 2-1 Cal lead through 6 innings before his throwing error to first opened the floodgate to the Bruins scoring 2 runs to take the lead. Thankfully, the Bruins also answered with some inability to field bunts to allow the Bears to score 6 runs in the Bottom 8. Darren Baker had a key infield hit to tie the game ahead of Vaughn’s bases clearing 3-run double. Dodson picked up his first win of the season after pitching in relief for the final 2.2 innings.
By the way, I have seen junior two-way player Tanner Dodson being listed as an early 2nd round pick in a MLB 2018 mock draft. Given the success of Ohtani in MLB, might a MLB team allow Dodson to be a two-way player in the pro? Dodson’s pitching is probably more valuable than his hitting, but I certainly would not mind seeing more two-way players in baseball.
Cal welcomes Utah (7-20, 3-3 in Pac-12) for three games starting tonight (Thursday). All three games will be on the Pac-12 Networks.
Thursday - 6:05 PM PT
Utah’s Josh Tedeschi (Jr./LHP) vs. California’s Matt Ladrech (Sr./LHP)
Friday - 7:05 PM PT
Utah’s Tanner Thomas (Sr./RHP) vs. California’s Jared Horn (So./RHP)
Saturday - 2:05 PM PT
Utah’s Brett Brocoff (Fr./RHP) vs. California’s Aaron Shortridge (Jr./RHP)
Despite their bad overall record, Utah was the improbable winner of the Pac-12 title in 2016 for the same strategy of just focusing on conference play (and executing trick plays such as double steals, etc. to perfection). Utes won 1 of 3 at USC before winning the series last weekend (2 out of 3) against those really good Oregon State Beavers.
The Utes are an average hitting team (0.268 batting average on the year) but turned a lot of double plays with few errors. DaShawn Keirsey Jr is their top hitter, currently on a 13-game hitting streak. Brett Brocoff has yet to allow a homer (so it will be extra sweet if Vaughn can break that streak).
The keys for the Bears is to keep on hitting - Golden Bears as a team has the 9th best batting average in college baseball at 0.311, and play better defense - allowing nearly 1 unearned run per game (23 unearned runs in 26 games) is a trend that the Bears have to stop. The Utes don’t quite have the same mystique when they are on the road (the elevation at Salt Lake City gives them a home field advantage) so I see the Bears winning 2 out of 3 close games in this series.
Cal Softball (26-11, 1-8 in Pac-12) swept by Arizona, wins two midweek non-conference games
As I more or less predicted in my preview last week, Cal Softball had trouble against the Arizona lefty ace Taylor McQuillin last week.
Cal 0, Arizona 3
McQuillin held the Bears to just one hit (by Kobie Pettis) and two errors. Zoe Conley allowed 3 runs to take the loss.
Cal 2, Arizona 3 (9 innings)
Like the weekend before this (when the Bears lost two in extra innings to ASU), Bears again lost a close one in extra innings. McQuillin had 12 K in the 9 innings and allowed 2 unearned runs to the Bears (3 Wildcats errors). They hit a walkoff homer in bottom 9 that bounced out of Cal RF Bradie Fillmore’s glove. Dung went the distance but allowed two solo homers.
Cal 3, Arizona 7
Bears had an early 3-0 lead but ace Zoe Conley just could not hold it as the Wildcats score 1 run, 2 runs, 3 runs in the next 3 innings to take the lead.
After the Pac-12 series, Bears played two midweek games.
Cal 5, Pacific 0
Kamalani Dung (15-2) almost had another perfect game but it was spoiled in the 7th. She had to settle for an one hit shutout. This was a close 1-0 game until the Bears score 4 insurance runs in Top 7.
Cal 13, St. Mary’s 0 (5 innings)
Zoe Conley (11-9) shut the Gaels down while the Bears slugged 2 homers - 1 apiece from the leftside of the infield in SS Jazmyn Jackson and 3B Karlee Sparacino to mercifully finish this game in just 5 innings via the run-rule.
After this weekend off, the Bears will visit No.1 Washington next weekend (April 13th-16th). While the past track record implies that the Bears will likely get swept, maybe they can steal an important game up in Seattle since they have played all the other top ranked Pac-12 teams fairly close.
Looking ahead, the 20th ranked Bears also have to host a top 10 UCLA team but has yet to play the unranked Utah, Stanford, and Oregon teams. Golden Bears need some upset wins to potentially move up to the top 16 and host a Regional. Otherwise, a similar 6-12 Pac-12 record like last year would mean another trip to a tough Regional and a tall order to advance to the Super Regional.