All year, Cal baseball followers have been waiting for when the perfect combination of hitting and pitching would come along. The beginning of the year had flashes of it, but by the time Pac-10 play ended this was a team that was clearly reliant on their pitching to have a chance. After their run through the regionals and the two dominations of Dallas Baptist, the team clearly has found balance they were desperately looking for.
Offensively, the team still managed to put major runs up on the board despite Tony Renda and Chadd Krist having quiet (by their standards) series. Other than Chadd Krist’s strong Sunday game, the pair did not drive in a run. The improvement came from a team wide effort. Unsung heroes like Derek Campbell, Darrel Mathews, and Mitch Delfino all made huge impacts on the series. The stars like Marcus Semien and Krist also made their mark on the series; it was a complete effort. If this offensive output from 1 to 9 in the lineup continues, we’re looking a team that’s going to be very tough to stop.
The team got the same strong performance from the pitching as they’ve received all year. Justin Jones, despite an injury, delivered his usual terrific performance. The left hander had the Patriots off balance all game long, and they really never struck the ball hard against him. He threw 6 shutout innings. Meanwhile, Erik Johnson struggled early on before settling down to deliver 6 innings of 2 run ball. The Patriots had a much easier time putting good contact on the ball, although they did record only 3 hits. The bullpen was spectacular in relief of Jones and Johnson, as Logan Scott, Kyle Porter, Kevin Miller, and Matt Flemer pitched 6 innings of shutout relief. The pitching’s been terrific all year and this was no different.
I hesitated to call this a favorable match-up in the preview even though I thought it was. I simply resorted to calling them “not the best team in the country”. This turned out to be a favorable match-up for the Bears. Dallas Baptist has all contact pitchers, and Cal has all contact hitters. Cal pitchers have the kind of nasty stuff you don’t see when facing Binghamton, and Dallas Baptist couldn’t adjust. Cal was clearly superior in every facet of the game, and it showed in how the games ended up. Dallas Baptist is a good team, but they just weren’t on the level of the Bears. The only time the game was ever in doubt was in the early innings of Game 2, when the Patriots trailed 3-2, but then Cal pulled away and they had no answer.
Cal now advances to the College World Series, where they’ll face the #1 seeded Virginia. The Cavaliers are a great team and will be the toughest competition Cal has faced yet in this tournament. This was a great series for the Bears, who got the right combination of pitching and hitting to take down Dallas Baptist easily. Now, that has to translate against the 8 best teams in the country. Go Bears!