Stoutenborough MVP of Cal Baseball's Victory

Bears win 2-1 in 11th, move to 6-4 on year, won five of six

Cal pitcher Sam Stoutenborough stood on the mound yesterday, facing an assortment of MLB scouts and a desperate St. Mary’s team. There were moments he had when less-skilled pitchers would’ve gotten nervous, like hearing catcalls from the opposing dugout or following up a walk with hitting the batter, but Stoutenborough remained in command of his fastball/splitter combo in the toughest moments. Even in his seventh inning of work, Stoutenborough was hitting his spots better than any Gaels rival displayed throughout the day.

(pc: Owen Kaminski)

In a pitching duel that turned into a slugfest, where both sides resorted to out-field players coming in to pitch, Cal got the lucky bounce at the right time to win the game. Gael 2B Javy Espinoza couldn’t get the ball out of his glove, allowing Cal CF Dylan Beavers to reach first on an infield single to open up the 11th inning. Following RF/RP Steven Zobac’s single into right field off of Gael RP Ryan Sanders, 1B Nathan Martorella simply flexed his muscles and hit a deep flyout to left field. Beavers casually jogged home from third on the sacrifice fly as the Bears celebrated their third walkoff of the season. 

The Bears’ bats had been silent until they got the lucky bounce. Starting Gaels pitcher Ky Bush walked home 2B Darren Baker in the 1st inning, but the Bears should’ve done better with the bases loaded and no outs. Within the 2nd and 10th innings, only Baker and Beavers reached base by a hit. Even when Gaels SS Christopher Campos was placed on the mound for the 9th and 10th innings and proceeded to miss his spots every time with his high-usage sinker, the Bears failed to get their runners home. The Gaels’ pitching staff is regarded as one of the best in the WCC (and their traditional relievers yesterday, Liam Steigerwald and Michael Hobbs, lived up to the reputation), but for the Bears to go down 1-2-3 against a guy who couldn’t say where his pitches would end up was frustrating. 

What was also a little frustrating, expectedly, was Cal manager Mike Neu’s insistence that RP Ian Villers be the spot starter while Stoutenborough comes out of the pen. Villers has now given up a run in every appearance. Meanwhile, RP Aaron Roberts and his 10-to-5 curve/low 90s fastball looked good enough in the 9th inning to elicit some murmurs and note-taking from the scouts. 

Zobac (1-0) earned the win after entering in the top of the 11th. His slider didn’t slide much across the plate, but SS Keshawn Ogans threw a perfect rope to end the inning off of a groundout. Sanders (0-1) took the loss. His slurve missed its spot on Zobac’s single, a crucial mistake at a time when any mistake was crucial. 

(pc: Owen Kaminski)

The Bears (6-4) now travel to Moraga for the next two games. Sean Sullivan is the expected starter for the Bears tomorrow. First pitch is at 2 p.m., local time, and will be livestreamed on the WCC website.