Cal’s season is over.
The Bears lost to fourth-seeded Central Connecticut State 7-4 on Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., eliminating Cal from the double-elimination Arkansas Regional of the NCAA postseason tournament.
Friday’s 13-2 loss to TCU was disappointing for Cal, but perhaps not as disappointing Saturday’s loss to a Central Connecticut State team that had never won a postseason game, going 0-13 before upsetting the Bears (32-20).
“Just obviously proud of the way our guys played all year. Disappointed in the weekend, obviously," Cal coach Mike Neu said. "Tough to lose when you go in with some expectations. Hoped to put on a little better weekend. Our guys competed all year.”
“I felt good about the way we were playing coming in. We were swinging the bats about as well as we were all year. That last weekend playing at Washington, we were putting up double digit runs almost every weekend going into that last weekend.
"You know that’s the strength of our team. When it goes cold, it can be a tough day. The games we lost, we haven’t swung the bat well and we haven’t played sharp defense. We shot ourselves in the foot several times and that’s what a couple of our losses have looked like. At times this year, when it’s going good, it’s going really good. I felt like we were going into this weekend feeling good. We didn’t play well these last few games.”
Cal star Andrew Vaughn, one of four finalists for the Golden Spikes award, went 0-for-6 with two walks in the two postseason games, although he had an RBI on Saturday.
“I think we just got down yesterday and made a couple errors and bad plays, we couldn’t bounce back," Vaughn said. "Today, we ran into a pretty good arm. They took advantage of us and got one big swing. That was it. Right hits at the right time. We didn’t have that flow like we had all year. But there is no doubt in my mind that we could have had this weekend.”
Cal used freshman Sam Stoutenborough as its starting pitcher against the Blue Devils (31-22), hoping to save Arman Sabouri for Sunday.
It did not work out, as Stoutenborough allowed nine hits and six runs (five earned) in five innings. The big blow for Central Connecticut State was Dave Matthews’ three-run home run in the fifth inning that broke a 3-3 tie.
“Obviously, it was a special day for our program, first NCAA win and in a very well-played, hardnosed baseball game," said Central Connecticut State coach Charlie Hickey.
Cal took an early lead by scoring twice in the top of the second inning, with Korey Lee’s solo homer being the key hit.
After the Blue Devils tied the game in the bottom of the second, Cal regained the lead on Vaughn’s RBI groundout in the third.
Matthews tied the score again with an RBI single on a 3-0 pitch in the bottom of the third, then delivered the deciding hit with his three-run shot off Stoutenborough in the fifth.
The Bears managed just four hits in seven innings off Blue Devils starter Tom Curtin (6-3).
Sabouri relieved Stoutenborough in the sixth and retired the first eight batters he faced before Buddy Dewaine hit a solo homer in the eighth to make it 7-3.
Cal scratched out a run in the top of the ninth, and got the tying run to the plate, but Quentin Selma popped up against Central Connecticut reliever Jared Gallagher for the final out.