Cal Baseball’s final 2019 regular season home series was shortened by bad weather in Northern California. In yet another Pac-12 series that have plenty of intrigue for MLB prospectors between two potential top-10 picks of the 2019 MLB Draft in Cal 1B Andrew Vaughn and Arizona State OF Hunter Bishop, Cal Bears (30-18, 15-11 in Pac-12) and the Arizona State Sun Devils (36-15, 15-11 in Pac-12) played two extremely closely contested games. The tie did secure a winning Pac-12 season, a key criteria used by the NCAA selection committee, for the Golden Bears, who are essentially guaranteed a postseason spot despite three more games left in the regulars season.
Cal 5, Arizona State 6 (11 innings)
This loss was particularly frustrating because the Golden Bears blew a Golden opportunity to score the game winning run in B10 after loading the bases with 0 out, but failed to get in the winning run against a 5 men infield after hitting two hard ground ball right at someone. Silver lining is that this happened in a regular season game rather than a postseason game. I do like that Neu did not go for a bunt in that situation (although in retrospect maybe that should have been the strategy for Darren Baker), but maybe better situational hitting (try to lift the ball there) is something that the Bears can work on?
Sam Wezniak put the Bears ahead 3-0 with a 1st inning homer. Andrew Vaughn also hit his 15th homer of the season (and 50th of his Cal career) to tie the game B8 after the Cal bullpen allowed 3 runs to the Sun Devils after starter Arman Sabouri left the game after 6 strong innings (2 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K). Rogelio Reyes, who will be counted on for some big outs in the postseason, allowed 2 runs in 3.1 IP to take this loss.
Both Vaughn and Korey Lee went 2 for 4, but the Bears as a squad struck out 16 times.
ASU’s own slugging 1st baseball Spencer Torkelson went 4 for 6 with a homer and the game winning single. Hunter Bishop was held in check to a 1 for 5 game with 3 K.
Cal 3, Arizona State 2
Jared Horn went the distance even with a 30 minute rain delay in the middle of this game to get the win for the Bears. Horn did allow two solo homers to Torkelson and Carter Aldrete (whose sister Annie was on Cal Softball), but struck out 9 while allowing just 5 hits and 2 walks to lower his season WHIP to 0.96. Horn kept Hunter Bishop in check by allowing just a walk and got him out 3 times.
Andrew Vaughn singled home the first run of the game; Korey Lee and Cameron Eden also single home key runs in what could possibly be the last home game for all three draft eligible Bears. The three Bears all recorded multiple hits in this game.
The Saturday game was originally postponed to Sunday, but the 2nd game of the double header was cancelled due to both a weather delay and inclement weather forecast at the end of game 1.
It did not show up on the box scores, but Cal RF Max Flower had two highlight reel plays in the two games.
After this series split, Bears are now ranked 30th in the NCBWA, two spots behind Arizona State.
Collegiate Baseball is even more fond of the Bears by having them as the 27th best team in the country.
Andrew Vaughn update:
This is what Andrew Vaughn did in the past two weeks against Stanford and Arizona State.
Friday vs. Stanford: 2 for 5, 1 2B 1 R, 2 RBI
Saturday vs. Stanford: 1 for 4, 1 2B, 1BB, 1 R, 1 RBI
Sunday vs. Stanford: 1 for 2, 1 HR, 2 BB, 1 R, 2 RBI
Friday vs. ASU: 2 for 4, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI
Saturday vs. ASU: 2 for 2, 2 BB, 1 RBI
Total: 8 for 17, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 BB, 2 K, 5 R, 7 RBI for a slash line of 0.471 (batting average)/ 0.609 (on-base percentage)/0.941 (slugging percentage) - video game numbers
For the season: 0.385 / 0.539 / 0.728 with 15 homers, 13 doubles, 53 BB, 5 HBP, to just 30 K
The 2018 Golden Spikes winner is again a Golden Spikes semifinalists. Cal fans can vote for Andrew Vaughn in the link in the embedded tweet below.
.385 average, 15 HRs, .539 OBP ... Sounds #GoldenSpikes worthy to us! Vote for #CalBaseball's Andrew Vaughn, who can become first repeat winner in history of the award. Just go to https://t.co/VMrg2mQImJ. You can vote up to 25 times per day thru Sunday, 2 pm (PT). #VoteForVaughn pic.twitter.com/ebMAkVJakP— Cal Baseball (@CalBaseball) May 21, 2019
Cal’s Postseason Outlook - 2nd seed in a regional
After the two games this weekend, the College Baseball RPI has ASU and Cal as the 33rd and 34th ranked teams in the country. Both Pac-12 teams are projected to be a 2nd seed in a regional. D1Baseball has the Bears in the Georgia Tech Regional in Atlanta.
NCAA rules prohibits more than one team from the same conference in a regional. With 3 Pac-12 teams on pace to host a regional, this means that the only way that the Bears can stay west is if they are placed in the UC Santa Barbara Regional (which will take place in Las Vegas, by the way). Chances are, Bears will have to travel east to at least Texas or much further East for the Regional Round.
Of course, there are still some room for changes with another weekend of regular season baseball left for the Golden Bears and the conference tournaments for most non-Pac-12 schools. At this point, I am just hoping for the Bears, a dangerous regional foe for anyone, to be placed in one of the 16 regional without a top 4 seed.
Golden Bears will close their 2019 regular season with a 3 game series up at Seattle against the Washington Huskies (28-22, 12-15 in Pac-12) who has a RPI of 57 and are in the next 4 out. Huskies should be very motivated to sweep this series to possibly sneak into the field of 64. That kind of all-hands-on-deck environment should be a good test for the Golden Bears squad that will be experiencing their first postseason action in two weeks.