With a Big Series coming up next weekend against No.2 Stanford Cardinal and former head coach David Esquer, it would have been easy for the California Golden Bears to overlook this Utah Utes series from elevation in Salt Lake City or the always dangerous midweek game at University of San Francisco.
Instead, the Cal Bears (28-15, 13-8 in Pac-12) continue their march toward a postseason return by sweeping Utah (12-28, 4-20 in Pac-12) over the weekend and then beating San Francisco Dons on Tuesday. The Bears are on a roll with wins in 8 of the last 9 and 17 of the last 21 games. The sweep allows the Bears to move up to sole possession of the 4th place in the Pac-12, where the top 3 teams were also the top 3 ranked teams IN THE COUNTRY last week (Oregon State had a bad weekend and dropped a bit).
Cal Bears are ready to close out the season strong against a tough upcoming gauntlet of Stanford (co-leader of the Pac), ASU (5th place in the Pac), and a trip to Washington (6th place in the Pac). Winning a 3rd of those games should be enough for a postseason berth. Winning at least half should guarantee it. Winning all three series, Cal Bears will be putting the rest of the college baseball world on notice.
Cal 8, Utah 4
With 3 runs in the 2nd and 5 runs in the 4th, Bears built up a big lead before turning the game over to some less used pitchers. “Opener” Araman Sabouri actually pitched 3.2 innings in this game before leaving after the Bears have broken the game open and hold a 8-0 lead. Fellow high leverage reliever Sean Sullivan, who was credited with the win, came in and pitched the next 1.1 innings. Head Coach Mike Neu got 1.0 inning from Jack Delmore (JC transfer) and 1.2 innings from Jack Wolger (a redshirt sophomore who actually had pitched 12 innings in 2017) before Rogelio Reyes finished the game.
Offensively, Bears got a pair of 3-run homers from Grant Holman and Sam Wezniak. Quentin Selma and Korey Lee got other the other two RBI. Utes scored all of their runs in B4 where a Cal miscue allowed all 4 runs to be unearned.
Cal 6, Utah 4
Despite Cal ace Jared Horn being the starter for this game, Utes had their best chance to steal a game in this one. Horn, who had a WHIP (walk plus hit per inning pitched) of only about 0.8 allowed 12 runners (9 hits and 3 walks) in 6 inning (WHIP of 2). Horn’s season WHIP after this outing is now 1.000.
Utes jumped out to a 2-0 lead in B2, 3-2 lead in B3, then 4-3 lead in B7 before the Bears immediately answer by equalizing. After Cal tied the game in T8 at 4, Connor Mack did this.
Mack’s opposite field blast gave the Bears the lead and eventually made a winner out of reliever Ian Villers, who has been getting more higher leverage use of late. Freshman Grant Holman, who used to start on Sundays, got his first collegiate save by pitching the ninth.
Cal 13, Utah 6
With a season high 5 homers, Cal Bears took control of this game early. Andrew Vaughn went 2 for 5 with a walk where both hits were homers (he now has a team leading 13) to drive in 5 runs. Korey Lee, Cameron Eden, and Max Flower also went yard. Bears took a 11-2 lead in the middle of the 5th.
Freshman Sam Stoutenborough started the Sunday game for his 2nd career start, after spending the bulk of the season as the long guy on Friday after the opener, and went a career best 7.1 IP. With a little better outfield defense behind him, his numbers would have been better than the 6 earned runs given up with 9 hits and 2 walk to 2 strikeouts (he mainly pitched to contact with the big lead).
Cal 10, San Francisco 5
Bears jumped out with a 4-run T1 but did not pull away until late. Outside of LF Garret Nielsen (who only had 1 AB before leaving the game), everyone in the lineup and Nielsen’s replacement Mack had at least a hit. CF Cameron Eden and SS Sam Wezniak led the way with 3 apiece. Freshman C Cole Elvis blasted another midweek homer late in this one. Bears outscored the Dons 6-2 after 4th innings when USF got within one run.
Bumped out of the Sunday starting spot, freshman Grant Holman started this Tuesday game - the last non-conference game of the season. Holman pitched two scoreless before Ian Villers, Carson Olson, and Jack Wolger (all pitchers who get work during the weekend as well) combined to give up 4 runs in the next 3 innings. Jack Delmore and Rogelio Reyes (arguably the most impressive pitcher of the afternoon with 4 K in 1.2 IP) did not allow runs before Sean Sullivan finished the game.
Somewhat interestingly, Mike Neu went with his known pitchers in this game against a winning USF Dons team (27-22) that has a bad RPI.
Andrew Vaughn Update:
Friday: 0 for 4, 1 BB, 1 K
Saturday: 1 for 3, 1 BB, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 R
Sunday: 2 for 4, 1 BB, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R
Tuesday: 1 for 3, 2BB, 1 R
For the week: 4 for 14, 5 BB, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, just 1 K
That’s a weekly slash line (Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage) of 0.286/0.429/0.786 which by Vaughn’s standard is a down week.
Slash line of 0.375/0.532/0.704, 13 total homers, 11 doubles, 47 walks to just 28 K, team best 41 run scored and a second best 42 RBI
Other Cal Bears that will be drafted this summer
By the way, Fangraphs’ ranking of the top 350 2019 MLB draft prospects also includes Korey Lee at 126, Jared Horn, Cameron Eden, and Brandon McIlwain are also listed. Also, Cal commit Kyren Paris is the 46th best prospect on their list (MLB Pipeline, which only ranks the top 100, has him 75th overall).
By the way, because our Cal Baseball coverage skipped a bit of the season, if you’re wondering where is dual-sport potential star Brandon McIlwain, he’s been out since the end of the Oregon State series with a broken foot. The diagnosis is for him to miss the rest of the baseball season (don’t know if he may be back IF Cal makes it all the way to the College World Series), but will be ready for football in the fall (when he’s allegedly transitioning from QB to RB). McIlwain, who was manning one of the OF position along side Cameron Eden and Max Flower, opened up playing time for guys like Connor Mack who was the hero on Saturday.
Postseason Watch: Cal RPI Update
Cal’s RPI improved from 42nd to 35th after completing the sweep at Utah and win at USF.
Bears would be in the NCAA postseason if the regular season is over today.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!