The Golden Bears started the game on the wrong foot, and it did not improve over the nine innings.
St. Mary’s College poured on the scoring early and often, recording two home runs, four doubles and a total of 13 hits. Head coach Mike Neu exhausted his options in the bullpen, pulling five pitchers into the game, but nobody stepped up to take control of the game.
Ultimately, the pitching was sloppy, and that led to the team losing. The pitching staff combined for four wild pitches and hit two batters with balls.
Freshman pitcher Mitchell Scott opened the game for Cal against St. Mary’s. His only previous action was against BYU in the Angels College Classic on Feb 18. In three innings pitched against the BYU Cougars, he allowed two earned runs off two hits while striking out five.
Scott continued his modest production in the home loss. A sloppy first inning disadvantaged the Bears quickly. The lead-off batter Gio Diaz singled into left field and subsequently advanced to third base from two wild pitches thrown by Scott. Diaz was able to score the first run of the game off his teammates RBI groundout. Scott pitched a clean second inning but gave up his fourth earned run of the season in the third putting Cal down 2-0.
He was replaced at the top of the fourth inning by Carson Olson. This is where the score started to snowball and become unmanageable.
The first batter Olson faced homered to right field furthering St. Mary’s lead to 3-0. Then the next hitter Eddie Haus singled. Then a wild pitch from Olson and error committed by catcher Korey Lee allowed Haus to advance to prime scoring position at third base. Then Olson walked his next batter putting runners on corners.
SMC capitalized on the Golden Bears mistakes with an RBI sac bunt to bring another runner home for a 4-0 lead. On a positive note, Olson ended the inning with his first strikeout of the season.
Hance Smith, Brandon McIlwain and Cameron Eden helped half the lead and put Cal back into the game competitively. The three players worked in lockstep to put points on the board in consecutive plays.
Eden put his cards on the table first with a single to center field. Center fielder McIlwain saw his single and raised with a double down the right foul line. Smith went all in with a two-RBI ground-rule double to knock both his teammates in for a 4-2 score. Those were the only runs scored in the fourth inning but the game no longer felt out-of-reach.
By the top of the sixth inning, Olson’s day was over. Jack Wolger stepped in to put pressure on St. Mary’s offense and prevent them from stacking their lead. This came with mixed results.
To follow the same theme for pitching in this game, it started poorly in the beginning. Wolger hit his lead-off batter with a pitch to give away a free base from the get-go. The next batter up hit the second homer of the game. And the score climbed back to a sizable lead of 6-2.
Wolger could have folded but instead put on an impressive showing of resilience by striking out three straight batters to end the inning.
Late in the game at the top of the eighth inning, St. Mary’s scored four runs to turn their snowball lead into an avalanche.
Jack Hinrichsen came into relief for Wolger in the prior inning for his third game appearance of the season. Two St. Marys’ players hit back-to-back doubles resulting in the first of four runs scored. Hinrichsen hit a batter and allowed Austin Chauvin to hit a single, loading the bases. This made the next two runs easy, as it was scored from a single to center field but aided by an error from McIlwain.
Hinrichsen was pulled in favor of fellow freshman Nick Proctor, but this did not improve much. Proctor threw an errant pitch which gave the go-ahead for St. Mary’s to score their tenth run of the game.
The fifth inning scoring outburst from Cal was an outlier compared to the performance of their offense for the rest of the game. Cal’s offense had seven hits but could not translate them into runs. They were struck out a season-high 13 times, the third time they’ve reached double-digits for strikeouts in a game this season. It’s arduous to win a baseball game when the pitching is detrimental and the offense can’t get out of its own way.
Cal(4-4) takes on St. Mary’s(5-4) again in game two of their four-game series at 7 P.M. March 1 at Evans Diamond in Berkeley, Ca.