Palms of Victory: Cal Baseball wins USC series; M. Gym earns spot in NCAA Championship
No.6 Cal Women's Water Polo swept both matches against No.4 ASU; Camryn Rogers set new hammer throw PR
In case you missed it, Cal Women’s Gymnastics has advanced to the NCAA Championships as one of the Elite Eight teams by placing second in the NCAA Morgantown Regional this past weekend.
Below are the rest of the Cal Victories from March 30th to April 7th.
Cal Baseball takes 2 of 3 over USC, wins 6th consecutive series
Despite some inconsistent pitching outside 6-7 guys, Cal Baseball (16-11, 4-2 in Pac-12) just keeps on finding ways to win series in 2021. Golden Bears won their 2nd Pac-12 series this past weekend, with the help of yet another dramatic walk-off victory (5th on the year).
Cal 4, USC 3
After being shut down offensively in a 6-1 loss by USC’s Esqueda in game 1, the Bears had a strong start in game 2 thanks to Quentin Selma’s 2-run homer in B1 and a strong second start by Grant Holman. Holman kept the Trojans in check through 4.2 IP, allowing just a solo homer and a walk to go with 6 K’s, as he was still on a pitch count after a delayed start to his season due to a shoulder ailment.
The Bears added a run in B5 with a bases-loaded walk but USC tied the game up in T6 against Cal reliever Josh White. The Bears had to work hard to preserve the tie in T9 after the Trojans started that inning with a leadoff double, including getting a pivotal second out at home to cut down a would-be-go-ahead scorer.
In B9, Darren Baker coaxed a walk to lead off the inning. Since this is college baseball, Cal attempted to sacrifice the speedy 2nd baseman to scoring position but caught a break when the Trojans could not make the play. Dylan Beaver then sent everyone home with a single.
Baker had a great game, going 2 for 3 with 2 walks. He also extended his team lead in stolen base to 13. The senior was just named one of 30 candidates for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award, an award for excellence both on and off the field.
Cal 5, USC 1
Following a similar script as game 2, the Bears started game 3 with strong pitching from Sean Sullivan, who went 4.2 IP allowing just 1 hit and a homer (3-run this time) from Quentin Selma (2 for 4, 4 RBI).
Paulshawn Pasqualatto, the odd man out of the rotation now that Holman is back, was awarded the win by the official scorer for his two scoreless innings of relief. Baker led the Cal attack on the basepath as one of four Bears with an SB. An HBP also helped extend Baker’s streak of reaching base in a game to 31.
Season status: Despite taking the series from the USC Trojans, the Bears actually went 2-3 in the past 10 days, dropping a pair of midweek games to San Jose State (a 10-7 slugfest) and a non-conference game to Stanford (a frustrating 4-3 loss where the Bears stranded 12 men on base). Golden Bears do not have a great RPI (135 in the latest release), and ultimately may need to win the Pac-12 to get into the postseason. The Pac-12 does have several ranked teams in D1Baseball.com’s Top 25 with Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, and Arizona ranked 19th through 22nd, but no clear-cut single dominant team. Oregon State is currently ahead with a 7-2 conference record with the Bay Area schools both sitting at 4-2.
The Bears will have the opportunity to improve their postseason résumé this weekend when they visit Arizona (19-8, 5-4 in Pac-12). The Wildcats are ranked 3rd in the country by RPI but have not done as well in recent conference play.
Cal Women’s Water Polo sweeps weekend matches vs. ASU
In a pivotal weekend that has large implications for the Bears’ prospect of earning that 3rd at-large bid as the No.4 team out of the MPSF in the NCAA Championships, the Cal Bears came through with two wins over then No.4 ASU.
Cal 12, ASU 7
Cal senior goalkeeper Cassidy Ball held ASU scoreless for nearly 10 minutes to allow the Bears to build a 10-4 lead that they will hold on for a 12-7 win.
Kitty Lynn Joustra, Maryn Dempsey, Cecily Turner, and Elli Protopapas each scored two goals for the Bears. Joustra and Protopapas returned to the Bears this season after taking 2020 off to help the national teams of the Netherlands and Greece, respectively.
Cal 5, ASU 3
The Bears had a soccer-esque lead of 3-0 at the half. The lead was 4-0 going to the final quarter but a very rare shutout was not meant to be. Protopapas scored two more goals to lead the Bears offensively, but the star of the show was Cassidy Ball.
Understandably, Cassidy Ball earned the MPSF Water Polo Player of the Week honor for her 0.615 save percentage and 16 total saves in the two wins.
Season status: The weekend success puts the Bears (7-4, 2-4 in Pac-12) back up to that too familiar No.4 in the rankings behind the usual suspects (USC, UCLA, Stanford). The Bears should have an easy weekend with two matches against San Jose State, ahead of two Big Splashes vs. Stanford next weekend.
Cal Men’s Gymnastics qualifies for the NCAA Championship
By my own rule for this post, a Cal team needs to finish in the top-3 to earn a mention. So I will only mention in passing how the Cal Bears placed four in the MPSF Championships this past weekend behind No.1 Oklahoma, No.3 Stanford, and Air Force. The Bears did not have their best meet (this was a rare meet that took the Bears to Colorado rather than one of the numerous “virtual meet” in this 2021 season) and only managed their fourth-best score of the season.
Nonetheless, the Bears were still able to earn one of 12 spots in the NCAA Championship as announced earlier this week, which will take place next weekend from Minneapolis, MN. The Golden Bears have the 11th best NQS score, so they edged out Air Force for one of the last two spots.
California’s 387.513 earned them into the field of 12 against Oklahoma (412.300), Michigan (411.525), Stanford (409.400), Nebraska (403.850), Ohio State (401.888), Penn State (401.213), Iowa (399.300), Illinois (398.438), Navy (396.600), Minnesota (393.450), and William & Mary (384.713).
Only the top-3 teams from the semifinal session will advance to the final sessions. Realistically, Cal has a better chance of qualifying individual gymnasts in one of the 6 apparatus or the all-around than the entire team to the final session.
Among the potential finalists for the Bears, freshman Noah Newfeld has earned his 4th CGA Rookie of the Week honor last week. Will Lavanakul had a career-best 14.250 on pommel horse this season, tied for 6th best in the country. Caleb Rickard reached the MPSF podium with his vault of 14.650. The Bears also have Yu-Chen Lee who garnered the MPSF Gymnast of the Week honor twice this year.
Camryn Rogers sets a new PR at the start of her hammer throw national title defense; Cal Track and Field has a strong showing at Stanford Invitational
Camryn Rogers made her much anticipated outdoor track and field debut last weekend, and it was worth the wait. The 2019 NCAA National Champion in the hammer throw set a new personal best (reminder that her previous best of 71.50m/234’-7” won an NCAA national championship) of 71.73 meters (235'-4") — easily the best mark on the 2021 season. Understandably, Rogers earned both a national honor from the USTFCCCA and a conference honor from the Pac-12.
Rogers hopes to repeat (because 2020 outdoor track season never happened) as the NCAA champion before she earns a spot in the 2021 Tokyo Olympic as a first-time Canadian Olympian. It will be very interesting to see how much she can improve between now and June. Hopefully, we will see her continue to break her own PR between now through the end of July/early August in Tokyo.
Here are the rest of the top 3 Cal finishers at the Stanford Invitational:
Hammer Throw: 2. Ivar Moisander, 61.29m/201-1
3,000 Meter Steeple: 3. James Abrahams, 9:03.41
Shot Put: 2. Josh Johnson, 19.19m/62-11.50
800 Meters: 1. Garrett MacQuiddy, 1:50.42
400 Meters: 1. Henry Larkin, 47.00
110 Hurdles: 3. Riley Hunt, 14.69 (PR)
Long Jump: 2. Windy Margerum, 5.78m/18-11.75w
Pole Vault: 3. Amari Turner, 3.70m/12-1.50
Discus Throw: 2. Jasmine Blair, 52.21m/171-3 (PR)
400 Hurdles: 2. Deshae Wise, 1:02.76 (PR)
100 Meters: 1. Ezinne Abba, 11.53w
200 Meters: 3. Ezinne Abba, 24.05 (PR)
The Golden Bears picked up 5 victories between Camryn Rogers, Ezinne Abba in 100m, Deshae Wise in 100m hurdles for the women and Garrett MacQuiddy in 800m, Henry Larkin in 400m for the men. It was also a great sign how a large number of the Cal Bears were setting new personal records (PR).
Cal Women’s Soccer wins via a Golden Goal at ASU
Part of the No.1 ranked freshman class in the country, Amaya Gray showed her skill by scoring the sudden-death “Golden Goal” in the 2nd OT of the Cal-ASU match last weekend.
Gray’s goal gave the Golden Bears a tough 2-1 victory at No.21 ASU. Sophomore transfer Keely Roy scored the earlier equalizer goal for the Bears in the 68th minute.
Season Status: Playing without senior midfielder Emma Westin this past weekend (Pac-12 Network said that she was just being rested), the Golden Bears (5-4-1, 3-4-0 in Pac-12) only managed to split the two matches in Arizona (Bears were edged 1-0 against the Wildcats).
To secure a spot in the smaller 48-team NCAA field this year, the Golden Bears will need to do well (win 2 if not all 3 matches) this weekend and the next when they host the California schools to close out the regular season. UCLA will visit Friday before USC on Sunday. Stanford will visit Witter Rugby Field next Friday.
Cal Field Hockey beats UC Davis in OT
Cal Field Hockey also had their own OT heroic when Megan Connors scored the golden goal against the Aggies. Maddie Cleats and Kiki de Bruijne also scored in this match while goalkeeper Cato Knipping registered three saves, including one in OT.
Season Status: The win over UC Davis was only the second one this year for the Bears (2-5, 1-3 in American East play), who also defeated Davis 2-0 earlier this year. The Bears lost 5-1 to No.18 Stanford on Tuesday and will seek a different result in the rematch at The Farm on Sunday.
Cal Beach Volleyball beats SMC 3-2
This burb would have been placed higher (and written with much more enthusiasm) had the Cal Bears won one or both matches of the doubleheader against then No.5 Cal Poly and then No.11 Stanford last Saturday. Unfortunately, the Bears lost both by the slim 3-2 margin.
The No.5 pair of Brooke Buchner/Ava Mann won their match in both contests. The recently formed freshman duo had played great since pairing together two weeks ago. Mirkovic/Schafer at No.1 beat Cal Poly but lost to Stanford, including a 30-28 really extended second set (they normally play to just 21 per set). The No.2 pair of Polo/Radell beat Stanford but not Cal Poly (they fell in a 3rd set).
The Bears did get wins from those three pairs all in the same match in the midweek contest against SMC to earn a 3-2 victory, ahead of arguably their toughest challenge yet.
Season Status: Two weeks after the Pac-12 South Invitational, Cal Bears (9-5, 4-2 in Pac-12) will next play in the Pac-12 North Invitational that is again set in Arizona. Golden Bears will face No.2 USC (who are no longer undefeated after splitting matches against Florida State and LSU this past weekend), ASU, No.12 Arizona, and No.7 Stanford. So that’s plenty of opportunities for the Cal Bears to earn some big wins to move back up the rankings. The 1-2 week saw the Golden Bears drop from No.9 to No.11 in the country.
Looking slightly ahead, the Pac-12 Championships will be the very end of April through May 1st from Los Angeles. The NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship only has room for the top 8 teams.
Cal Softball beat SMC midweek
Also beating SMC in a midweek tune-up was Cal Softball. The Bears won 6-1 behind a strong pitching performance from Haylei Archer. Tatum Anzaldo had two hits and two RBI to lead the Cal offense.
Season Status: Cal (13-11, 1-5 in Pac-12) will seek a second Pac-12 win and more when they host the Utah Utes this weekend for four games. The Bears were swept in the four-game series against No.6 Washington last weekend, the closest contest had the Bears within 3 runs. This was on the heel of their series at No.3 UCLA canceled due to COVID issues on the Bruins’ side. The Utes (15-15, 1-8 in Pac-12) should be easier opponents.
ROLL ON YOU BEARS!