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Golden Medals: Cal beats Stanford in Baseball, M. Swim, W. Gym; Rugby beats UBC

Cal won some key rivalry games/matches in these past few weeks.

Brandon McIlwain may have missed the Big Game win this past fall, but he played a big role in Cal’s midweek baseball win over Stanford.
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The nice thing about covering all the Cal non-revenue sports is that there is almost always positive results on a weekly basis. For this week’s post, I will cherry-pick a few big rivalry wins of the past few weeks.


Cal Baseball wins midweek game 8-4 over the overrated No.15 Stanford

Former Cal QB Brandon McIlwain decided to concentrate only on baseball this school year. This meant that McIlwain missed out on that thrilling late comeback against Stanford this past fall. He would help the Baseball Golden Bears mount a late comeback win against Stanford on Tuesday with his first homer of the season.

Of course, a non-conference midweek game against Stanford (the regular season series will be hosted by Stanford next month) is nowhere as important as the Big Game. Nonetheless, the Golden Bears (3-5) picked up a big win against the preseason No.15 team in the country in Stanford. While Stanford (1-7) will surely drop out of the rankings when that get updated, the Cardinal and the Bears may both be vying for a postseason spot by the end of the spring - both young squads have enough talent to get there, IF they are able to put everything together.

Like most midweek game, most sides opted to give more opportunities to the younger players. Cal started 5 true freshmen while Stanford started 6.

The Cal offense were hold in check by Stanford’s Max Meier and Brandon Dieter early with both pitchers allowing just one Cal hit in 3 innings. Right after Stanford went ahead with two runs in the top of the 7th to take a 3-1 lead, Cal Bears started their rally.

A one out single by Steven Zobac drove Dieter from the game. Fellow freshman Ethan Cloyd followed with a single the other way to put two on. Cal freshman shortstop Keshawn Ogans then hit a possible double play ground ball to his Stanford counterpart who botched the short throw to 2nd to load the bases for the Bears. The top of the Cal lineup then produced in a big way - Darren Baker drew a bases loaded walk for a run. Quentin Selma, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Week for his great hitting over the weekend, flied out to deep left for a game tying sac fly. After true freshman Nick Martorella walked to reload the bases, sophomore Grant Holman drove a ball to the right center gap to put the Bears ahead 6-3. Brandon McIlwain followed with his first homer of the season to left center for a 8-3 lead.

Cal Baseball will hold on for a 8-4 win. Freshman Joseph King picked up the win in relief. Steven Zobac moved to the mound to close the game in a non-save situation.

While the Bears only won one game (the last one) against the visiting St. Johns Red Storm over the weekend, Quentin Selma had the game breaking 3-run homer in the finale to give Cal a much needed win. In the 4 game (that includes last week’s UCSB game and the St. John series), Selma went 7 for 13 (0.538) at the plate with 11 RBI. Selma, in that two-hole vacated by Andrew Vaughn, is currently leading the Pac-12 in RBI (as much as that is dependent on his team).

Cal Baseball will visit TCU in Texas for a 3-game weekend series this weekend.

While the early results so far have been marred by the uneven performances from a very young pitching staff and way too many strikeouts by the lineup, Bears also showed enough potential and lost a few close games for optimistic Cal fans to feel relatively good about the prospect of this 2020 season.

Cal Men’s Swimming beats Stanford for the 12th straight year

In their final tune up before the Pac-12 Championships next week and the NCAA Championship in the end of March from Indianapolis, IN, Cal Men’s Swimming and Diving won their final dual meet in impressive fashion - a 198-98 win over rival Stanford.

Bears won 10 of 12 individual swimming events with Ryan Hoffer, Zheng Wen Quah, and Reece Whitley each winning two events apiece. Bears also won both the meet opening 200 medley relay and the meet closing 400 free relay.

Unless the Bears send their top guys to some other meet (which was the case 4 years ago when the Bears sent their top guys to a long course meet instead), Cal should be the favorite for the team Pac-12 title next week from Federal Way, WA. The NCAA National Championship should be another tight Cal vs. Texas showdown.

Golden Bears will be looking to repeat as national champs since winning in both 2011 and 2012.

Cal Women’s Gymnastics beats Stanford for the 3rd time in 2020

Bears beat Oregon State last weekend by a 197.125 - 196.600 score, but I will instead focus on the win the week before when the Bears beat Stanford 197.125 - 196.175 from Maples Pavilion.

Kyana George won the all-around and the Bears took 6 totals overall, with ties in vault (George and senior Rachael Mastrangelo) and bars (Maya Bordas and Emi Watterson) to go with Geroge’s win in beams. Bears had the 4th best beam rotation in program history to close out the meet.

This was Cal’s 3rd win over Stanford in the 2020 season, but the first one in a dual meet.

Justin Howell has stated that the goal for this year’s team is to break that 198 mark. 198 is probably what the Bears should achieve to really guarantee themselves a spot in the final 8 AKA the NCAA National Championships.

So far, small deductions here and there has caused the Bears to not quite reach their potential. Kyana George, Cal’s best gymnast, also suffered an ankle injury late last week against Oregon State. Fortunately for the Bears, sophomore Maya Bordas has picked up some of the slack with strong all-around performances in recent weeks as well.

There are still 4 more meets (Cal hosts Arizona this Sunday) before the Pac-12 Championships for the Golden Bears to heal and find that 198 team score.

Cal Rugby wins home leg of “World Cup” series against UBC in dominant fashion

Bears won the home leg of the two leg “World Cup” series against University of British Columbia by a 36-21 score. Taking advantage of man advantages from yellow and eventually red cards issued against the Thunderbirds, Cal built a big lead before allowing UBC to cut into it despite a man down in the second half. A late try and conversion sealed the deal for the home side.

Senior Keanu Andrade had a big match in scoring the first two Cal tries. True freshman Max Schumacher had an important nifty try right before the half to capitalize on the man advantage and to give Cal Bears a commanding 24-7 lead. A dual yellow cards that turned into a red for UBC meant the Bears played with a man up for the bulk of the second half.

Like past few years, head coach Jack Clark will send a completely different starting 15 to Vancouver to face UBC there. We shall see if the 15 point edge is enough for the Cal Bears to win their first “World Cup” in quite a few years as UBC team has grown significantly older in recent years to compete better against their club and pro rivals.

Cal Rugby will host Army the following week in a return to D1A Rugby schedule. With Life’s loss to Arkansas State two weeks ago, Cal has ascended to No.1 in the D1A Rugby rankings. After some hiccups to start years due to injuries forcing some reshuffling of roles, the main Cal team has started to gel. Nonetheless, the Bears potential run to another Rugby 15s title will be fueled by team depth and how even the Cal backups will have this valuable playing experience up at Vancouver this weekend.