With any young team, a rollercoaster year filled with ups and downs is expected. Cal is a young team, and inconsistency between games has been the hallmark of their year.
Before this past week, Cal had been riding a hot streak in which they won six of their last seven games. However, this streak was quickly halted, as Saint Mary’s pummeled the Bears 24-7 in an ugly midweek game. The Bears then headed to Salt Lake City, where they were to take on the struggling Utah Utes.
Utah took game one of the series by a score of 9-3. Freshman Jared Horn, who had just begun to show consistency in the Friday night role, was plagued by walks, which brought his pitch count to a soaring 122 pitches. The Cal bats were also never able to get going, as Utes ace Jayson Rose pitched eight flawless innings.
Game two saw the Bears fall 16-8, thanks to an 11-run second inning which provided Utah with all the offense they would need. Cal squandered an early 3-0 lead by giving Utah extra outs in their half of the second. Joey Matulovich, who had yet to lose a game this year, was unable to limit the damage caused by fielding errors and was pulled in the second. Cal’s offense managed to put some runs up on the scoreboard, but it was too little too late.
Cal managed to take game three of the series, winning a slugfest 8-7. Tanner Dodson continued swinging the bat well, as he went 3-5 while also recording the last out of the game. Starter Matt Ladrech went 5 ⅓ innings, but it was closer Erik Martinez who carried the bulk of the load, putting up over three innings of scoreless baseball.
Just as the Bears looked poised to make a run in the Pac-12, they lost a key series against Utah. The recently consistent play from Jeffrey Mitchell Jr., Andrew Vaughn, and Jared Horn failed to materialize. Without contributions from these key underclassmen, the Bears can not expect to win consistently.
The Cal Bears have shown flashes of greatness at points during this season, yet they have been annulled by lackluster play. For the Bears to have any shot at a postseason berth, they must overcome their inexperience and play to the level that they’ve shown they can.