Baseball Aims to Wave in Victories

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While the Cal baseball team has already abandoned its tee-ball days in exchange for 90-mile per hour fastballs, it might not be a bad idea to regress.

The Bears (4-5) have struggled to find the sweet spot of their bats over the past three games, and have failed to deliver hits in clutch situations.

The ballclub will have a chance to regain its offensive firepower in the sunny setting of Malibu, Calif. this weekend, where it matches up against Pepperdine in a three-game series beginning today at 2 p.m.

And despite the lack of runs being scored, there's no questioning the obvious: Cal needs to maintain consistency, especially with No. 2 Stanford looming next week.

"The players are OK," Bears pitching coach Dan Hubbs said. "They're just trying to find their identity. It's just a funk our guys are in. We're hoping to break out this weekend."

In its first five games, Cal put 36 runs on the scoreboard. But in its last three games, the team could drive in only seven.

Aside from the noticeable discrepancies at the plate, it is just a matter of time before the squad can get into its groove.

"Some guys are pressing more than they have to," Hubbs said. "(But) we just need one big hit. Obviously, the sooner the better."

Meanwhile, Pepperdine (3-5) is suffering through a minor slump of its own. The Waves opened their season 1-5 with losses to USC, UCLA and Fresno State. Their pitchers allowed 50 runs during that span and their batters mustered only 21 at the plate. But Pepperdine rebounded nicely, taking two games of a three-game series with Missouri last weekend.

Preseason All-American Dane Sardinha headlines a Waves lineup that includes seven starters from last year's 46-16 squad. The junior catcher is currently batting .333 with a home run and seven RBIs.

The roster includes his younger brother, Duke Sardinha, who has already made 28 appearances at the plate, and is batting .286 as a freshman. Complementing the Sardinhas is senior Jeremy White, who is batting .320 with a home run and five RBIs.

"Pepperdine is a good team," Hubbs said. "They have a solid pitching staff and they have good position players. They're struggling early on, but we hope they don't break out on us."

The statistic that has hurt Cal the most is the number of times it has squandered its opportunities with its base-runners.

Against St. Mary's last Wednesday, the Bears stranded a whopping 14 runners. And in the Long Beach State series this past week, Cal left a combined 24 players on base.

Meanwhile, for the Bears to stay buoyant throughout the series, it must get a good start from its offense. In its last four games, Cal has been plagued by its lack of production early on. The earliest the Bears have scored during that time frame was in the second inning.

"If we score early on, that will take pressure off the pitchers," Hubbs said. "But the pitchers should be able to pitch well all the time."


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