Statements to the rest of the college baseball world will be made this weekend from Berkeley when two very good baseball teams in the Cal Bears and the No.2/3 Stanford Cardinal face-off in an exciting three-game series.
Cal, winner of 17 of the last 21 games, will get to test themselves against the co-leading team in the Pac in Stanford (who are tied 17-4 in the Pac-12 with Oregon State, one game better than top ranked UCLA and their 16-5 record). Bears would love to win this series to upgrade their postseason chance from very good to lock, although just one victory may do the trick.
Stanford, of course, is now helmed by long time Cal head coach David Esquer. All the Cal fans who had questioned Esquer’s strategies in the past would love to see his propensity for bunts to hurt the Cardinal in this series. Stanford has won 10 of their last 12 games.
For Cal head coach Mike Neu, an interesting strategic decision may be whether to use ace bulk pitcher Sam Stoutenborough as the bulk guy on Friday behind opener Arman Sabouri or save him for Sunday. I can see this decision not being decided until Neu sees if the Bears can jump out to an early lead on Friday. I would argue that Cal Baseball, despite the very pleasant surprise of good pitching this year, only have enough reliable arms to win two games. Would Neu try to maximize the winning probability in the first two games and let some less experienced pitchers play on Sunday?
On the field, the most exciting matchup is Stanford pitching vs. Cal hitting. Cal, one of the top offensive team in the country, thanks to the reigning Golden Spikes winner Andrew Vaughn and other productive hitters in Cameron Eden and Korey Lee, will have to solve one of the best pitching staff in the Pac in Stanford. Stanford as a team has a team ERA of 3.05; for comparison, Cal’s team ERA is just north of 4. Also interestingly, their ace Will Matthiessen will not start the Friday game but the Saturday one against Cal ace Jared Horn.
It should be a fun series. Use the comment section below to discuss the games.
California Golden Bears Baseball (28-15, 13-8 in Pac-12)
Stanford Cardinal (35-8, 17-4 in Pac-12)
Where: Evans Diamond (Berkeley, CA)
Friday, May 10 - 7:05 pm PT
Stanford: RHP Brendan Beck (4-3, 2.74)
Cal: LHP Arman Sabouri (2-2, 2.14)
Saturday, May 11 - 2:05 pm PT
Stanford: RHP Will Matthiessen (5-1, 3.20)
Cal: RHP Jared Horn (4-1, 2.03)
Sunday, May 12 - 12:05 pm PT
Stanford: LHP Erik Miller (6-1, 2.64)
TV: Pac-12 Network