Utah vs California:
The University of Utah baseball team will take on the California Berkeley Golden Bears at Smith’s Ballpark this weekend. Historically, the Utes haven’t fared well against the Golden Bears with a 6-17 record. Utah lost its first 11 games against the Golden Bears after joining the Pac-12 in 2012. Although the Utes got off to a slow start, they have recently had the upper hand in the matchup, going 6-4 in their last 10 meetings. Cal is currently 24-15 (10-8) while the Utes are 12-25 (4-17) on the season.
Cal College World Series History:
Since the team’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament in 1947, the Golden Bears have made it to the College World Series six times. Cal has won the College World Series twice, in 1947 and 1957. The Golden Bears’ last College World Series appearance came in 2011 after beating multiple odds to make it to the final eight.
Cal Players to Watch:
Andrew Vaughn was the winner of the Golden Spikes Award in 2018. The Golden Spikes Award is given to the best college baseball player in the country. He was the first Cal player in history to be a finalist for this award, let alone win it. Alongside the Golden Spikes Award, Vaughn was also named the National Player of the Year from Perfect Game and Rawlings. Vaughn was named to the 2018 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team while also being named a Consensus All-American for 2018. He was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year as well as the national position player of the year alongside Texas’ Kody Clemens. He is projected to be the No. 3 pick in the Major League Baseball Draft this season behind Pac-12 colleague Adley Rutschman at Oregon State. Vaughn currently leads the Golden Bears in hits (50), home runs (11), total bases (92) and walks (40).
Korey Lee will more than likely play catcher for Cal as they visit Utah, but he has played a variety of positions throughout his time as a Golden Bear. This includes first base, catcher, third base, pitcher and designated hitter. Lee currently leads the team in RBI (43) and doubles (10). Out of high school, Lee was the eighth-ranked catcher out of the state of California. When on the mound, Lee will throw a 91 mph fastball coupled with an 82 mph curveball. Although he hasn’t pitched this season, Lee is another weapon in Cal’s arsenal if they need him. He has been an extraordinary catcher this year with a .981 fielding percentage and 28 assists from behind the dish. His pop time behind the plate is one of the quickest in the state of California at 1.9 seconds.
Jared Horn was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school in 2016, but elected to play college baseball at Cal. Horn will throw a four-seam fastball in the low 90s coupled with a two-seam fastball in the upper 80s and a changeup/slider in the mid 70s. He works down in the zone, but isn’t afraid to change eye level if the batter seems to be sitting on pitches. He likes to work the inside part of the plate early before touching the outside part of the plate later in the at bats. Horn currently has a 1.71 ERA and is 4-1 on the year.
Cal Head Coach:
Mike Neu became the 11th head coach in Cal baseball history in 2017, leading the Golden Bears to a 32-22 season in 2018. Before becoming the head coach at Cal Berkeley, he was the head man for the Pacific Tigers, leading them to 40 wins in two seasons. Neu was a standout pitcher during his playing days for the Miami Hurricanes before spending some time in Major League Baseball with the Dodgers, Marlins, A’s and Reds organizations. He helped the Hurricanes win the College World Series in 1999 and appeared in all four of Miami’s games in Omaha.
Cal Fun Fact:
The Golden Bears’ last College World Series appearance came the same season that the school said they would shut the baseball program down. Thanks to generous donors, Cal’s baseball team was saved and gave their fans a season to remember. After finishing sixth in the Pac-10, they earned an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed in the Houston Regional. After losing their first game to Baylor, Cal didn’t look back, tearing through the Regional and Super Regional to make it to Omaha to play in the College World Series. The Golden Bears would pick up a win against Texas A&M before being eliminated by the Virginia Cavaliers.
Utah 2019 Season Update:
The Utes had a tough week, going 0-4 against the Utah Valley Wolverines and the UCLA Bruins. Utah is currently 12-25 (4-17) and are hoping to get back to victory against Cal this weekend.
Utah Players to Watch:
Matt Richardson was 2-8 at the plate against the Bruins with both hits coming in Game 1 of the weekend series. The shortstop is known for his quick hands and flashy plays in the infield. This year, Richardson has been a great defensive player for the Utes with 58 assists, 47 put outs and only six errors.
Oliver Dunn went 3-17 last week, notching a hit in three of the four games he started. Dunn has gotten at least one hit in every game, but four this season, and is continuing to be a leader for the Utes at the plate. Dunn has also shined defensively with only four errors on the season. He has been involved in 85 assists and 61 put-outs on the year.
Riley Pierce has been a solid option for the Utes this year. Although he didn’t get many innings at the beginning of the year, he has gone deep into the last four games he’s started. Pierce has chalked up 12 strikeouts in his last four appearances and has started the first game of the last three conference matchups.
Utah Fun Fact:
The Utes have the largest baseball stadium in the Pac-12. They currently share the stadium with the Salt Lake Bees. It was announced in 2016 that the university would be building a new $7.5 million dollar stadium located where Utah’s practice facility currently sits on Guardsman Way.
This Weekend’s Schedule:
Utah and Cal will battle it out at Smith’s Ballpark on Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. All games will be broadcast on Utah’s Live Stream and the Pac-12 Plus Live Stream, which can be found at utahutes.com.