Oh returns home for weekend series at Washington

Photo: Vince Bruno leads all Cal regulars with a .356 batting average. The sophomore transfer has been one of the toughest outs in the Bears' lineup all season.
Jonamir Ian Ventura/Staff
Vince Bruno leads all Cal regulars with a .356 batting average. The sophomore transfer has been one of the toughest outs in the Bears' lineup all season.

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Junior shortstop Marcus Semien doesn't remember too much from the Cal baseball team's last trip to Washington. He was only a freshman then, and went 0-for-6 in two starts at third base.

But there's one thing that stuck with him.

"Danny Oh, he's from Seattle, and he hit a grand slam in his (second) at-bat in front of his parents," Semien said. "That was a pretty touching moment even though we got swept."

After hitting just under .300 through his first two seasons, Oh has been in a season-long slump heading into Friday's 6 p.m. game against the Huskies. Although the former All-Pac-10 honorable mention owns one of the team's 13 home runs this spring, the junior outfielder is batting a disappointing .180.

The No. 16 Bears haven't suffered for it - not that they would mind another grand slam this weekend.

The team burst out to a hot start this season, and won nine of 10 games before three straight losses last week ended the run. Cal (20-9, 6-3 in the Pac-10) no longer holds pole position in the conference, but it should still stay in the top three if it wins the series at Husky Ballpark.

They may have a much easier time there than they did at Arizona a week ago. The Wildcats are ranked at No. 22 and own a 22-11 record; Washington is sitting at 10-20 and hovering in the bottom three of the Pac-10. The Huskies also lost 15 of 19 games to open their season.

But the large outfields and warm air of Arizona's Kindall Field are also conducive to offensive eruptions, which means that scores like Cal's 17-7 win last Sunday aren't going to repeat themselves. A series that totaled 51 runs between the two teams doesn't provide easy projections to how the team might perform next.

Regardless, a weekend of .361 batting - up from a team season average of .306 - could provide added momentum in the Bears second consecutive road trip.

"We were hitting a lot of balls hard on the ground," Semien said of the team's showing in Arizona. "They do have a fast infield, but we were finding a lot of holes. That kind of baseball is good anywhere we go."

On the flip side, the Bears pitching staff, which has been rock solid for the team throughout most of the season, won't be nearly as battered as they were in Tucson, Ariz. Cal gave up 19 runs in the series, easily the team's worst stretch yet.

And then there's the issue of the missing chip on Cal's shoulder. It's an absurdly small sample size, but the Bears have gone 1-2 since reinstatement last Friday. Players don't believe the good news has taken away any of their motivation, but a clean sweep of the Huskies would keep the record from becoming a trend.

"I kind of liked the way we were playing when we had that chip on our shoulder, us against the world kind of thing," Semien said. "I want us to keep that fire."


Jack Wang covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected]

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