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Late Rally by Oregon Ends Cal Baseball's Season
Cal needed to go all the way in the second annual Pac 12 tournament to have any chance at the NCAA Baseball Playoffs. Despite an early lead, the Golden Bears fell short ending their season.
The California Golden Bears baseball team (24-27) came into Tuesday night’s Pac 12 Tournament opener against the Oregon Ducks (34-20), with their season on the line, needing to win the tournament for an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs.
Cal showed a sense of urgency right out of the gate on a first-pitch leadoff triple to center by junior Max Handron. All Pac-12 honorable mention honoree Caleb Lomavita immediately capitalized on the early opportunity. He knocked Handron home on a sacrifice fly to give the Bears a 1-0 lead. Cal would extend their lead in the second inning. After sophomore Carson Crawford got Cal another leadoff hit with a double, graduate student designated hitter Dom Souto singled him home.
Oregon responded by getting one run back to cut the 2-0 deficit in half in the bottom of the second. The Bears however kept them off the board up until the eighth. Unfortunately, Cal was unable to capitalize on another couple of golden opportunities when the leadoff runners got on base in the third and fifth innings. From there on out, Oregon pitching shut them down, despite the team coming off a pair of slugfests in the previous two game against Washington to earn themselves this spot in the tournament.
After Cal used Christian Becerra as the opener, sophomore Andres Galan got the Bears through 4.2 innings striking out five, including getting out of a jam in the fourth. The Bears were unable to close it out in the bottom of the eigth when Oregon tied it on an error by Crawford, then took the lead on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Jacob Walsh. This put a game-ending double play in the following inning put a cap on Cal’s season, the sixth season of the Mike Neu era. While they will have another round-robin game against Stanford on Wednesday, due to Oregon and Stanford’s higher seeds the team will not have a chance to advance even with a tiebreaker occurring in the pool of three.
Moving Forward For Cal Baseball
Not knowing the fate of the transfer portal or MLB draft yet, Cal has potential to bring back two highly impactful sluggers from this past season in Lomavita, Crawford, Handron and sophomore outfielder and All Pac-12 Conference Team honoree Rodney Green Jr. While the team managed to find some of their groove with the long ball this season, they failed to produce much else offensively. The team finished at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 in most key offensive categories, but they have some of these impactful returnees to potentially look forward to.
On the pitching side of things, junior Paulshawn Pasqualotto led starters with a 5-1 record and 4.03 ERA, while receiving All-Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honorable mention honors. The top four pitchers in games started will have more years of eligibility left, as will saves leaders Tyler Stasiowski and two-way player Tucker Bougie.