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Cal Baseball’s postseason run ends with loss to CCSU

Golden Bears need to win 4 straight (2 on Sunday) to advance to the Super Regional.

Cal Baseball cannot afford another loss this weekend, if they want to extend the season to the next weekend.
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Saturday Quick Recap:

Cal 4, Central Connecticut State 7

Cal Baseball’s season ended with slugger Andrew Vaughn, he would represent the tying run, on deck. Bears twice had an early lead but could not get a shutdown inning.

Full recap coming up on Monday.

Friday Recap:

Cal 2, TCU 13

The Cheese-INT Bowl rematch at one point looked like that it might be a high error “FayEtteville” regional game, but it turned out that the Cal Bears, rather than the most error-prone team in the Big 12 in TCU, were the only ones making the errors early. By the time that the TCU Horned Frogs made their error, the game was essentially over.

Cal catcher Korey Lee’s errant throw to third on a catch stealing attempt allowed the first run of the game to score. Unfortunately, Cal ace Jared Horn labored for the entire outing, throwing 114 pitches in 5+ innings. Horn’s throwing error in the top of the 6th knocked him out of the game. Hopefully, we will see Jared Horn pitch a relief inning later this weekend, otherwise, that may have been a very sad way to end his Cal career for the junior pitcher.

After TCU scored the first two runs, Cal finally got on board in B4 but TCU immediately answered with a solo homer from DH Hunter Wolfe who went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and a homer for 4 RBI and 3 run scored. After Horn left in T6, Cal pen struggled and allowed 6 runs, including a 2-run homer to Johnny Rizer, to let the game get out of hand.

Cal’s top of the order was kept in check until 8th inning when both Eden and Selma got on in front of Andrew Vaughn with the Bears trailing 9-2. Vaughn harmlessly hit into a fielder’s choice to conclude a 0 for 3 day with 1 walk.

TCU starter Brandon Williamson kept the Bears in check in 4 innings while allowing just 1 run, but it was reliever Charles King whose efficient 4 innings of relief that really shut down the high octane Cal offense.

Scouting the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils

In the other game of the Fayetteville Regional, host Arkansas Razorbacks beat CCSU Blue Devils 11-5 in the early game. CCSU (30-22) will be the Bears’ next opponent in Saturday’s elimination game at 10 AM PT. Cal will start freshman Sam Stoutenborough in this game.

Stoutenborough is the Cal leader in innings and wins in 2019. He went from the main Friday “follower” (the guy who pitches the bulk of the game after the opener) to a Sunday starter (4 starts by the end of the season, including a Monday start vs. then No.25 BYU when he allowed 2 runs in 5.1 IP). Should Jared Horn turn pro, Stoutenborough is probably the ace pitcher of the staff in 2020.

CCSU’s roster is full of Connecticut natives. They are 8-4 on the year playing at Neutral Sites. The Blue Devils won 2 out of 3 games in the Northeast Conference Championship over Bryant (the regular season winner) to get the automatic bid.

With Brandon Fox starting on Friday, Tom Curtin will probably get the call to start on the mound for them on Saturday. Curtin started the Northeast championship deciding game for CCSU. After Fox, Curtin is 2nd on the team in starts with Patrick Mitchell 3rd; Mitchell pitched 2.1 IP of relief on Friday.

1st baseman TT Bowen was the entire offense on Friday with 5 RBI and a homer. For the season, Bowen is slashing 0.385/0.467/0.667 with 5 homers. Hitting behind Bowen in the lineup is Dave Matthews, whose 6 homers leads the team.

The key for the Golden Bears on Saturday is to have an easy day and rebuild their confidence. Bears played a bit tight both at the plate and on the mound on Friday, but an easy rout against a potentially overmatched (but well rested) CCSU team may just be what the doctor ordered to get the Bears loose and cause some havoc on Sunday.

With zero margin for errors, Cal now needs to win 4 games in 3 days to make the Super Regional

This means that should the Bears beat CCSU on Saturday, they will need to win two games on Sunday to force a decisive Monday regional championship game. Supposedly, there may be some poor weather on Sunday night or Monday that may eventually help the Bears if they get another day or rest to potentially use Jared Horn again.

Nevertheless, it will take the whole pitching staff for the Bears to avoid being eliminated. Bears did get several pitchers some invaluable experience on Friday night, but some of them struggled mightily - Ian Villers got 0 out while allowing 2 hits and 2 walks; JuCo transfer Jack Delmore allowed a two-run homer. Maybe they will do better in their next Regional outings.

The Cal offense never got going on Friday, but they may take their frustrations out on CCSU on Saturday. In 2019, Cal Baseball has won 4 games multiple times. While it will not be easy, it is certainly plausible. Starting with beating Central Connecticut State on Saturday.