By: Adam Braunstein
A week after sweeping a Big Ten series against the Purdue Boilermakers, the Northwestern Wildcats were rudely reminded of how much improvement is still necessary to compete on the national stage when they welcomed the California Golden Bears into Evanston for a four game set.
Following Saturday’s 16-0 defeat, NU managed to keep the game close for the beginning of the first of two games the teams played on Sunday. In the bottom of the 3rd, NU trailed by just a single run, and had runners Antonio Freschet and Jack Dunn on the corners with no outs. It appeared as though first-year head coach Spencer Allen’s squad was poised to score, but what happened next was absolutely unpredictable.
A hard grounder up the middle by Zach Jones was fielded by Cal pitcher Tanner Dodson, who started the almost unheard of 1-6-3-2 triple play, and just like that Cal was back up at the plate.
The triple play seemed to take what momentum the ‘Cats had in that game, as the Golden Bears would extend their lead in the next inning and never look back neither in the game nor in the series.
For Cal, this was a critical series as they look to improve their chances of making the NCAA tournament. Now at 27-18 on the year, the Golden Bears are right on the bubble, and four wins in convincing fashion should go a long way in improving their chances.
For the ‘Cats, the series marks the close inaugural season at Miller Park. The team went 5-14 on the year in their new home.
On Friday afternoon, Northwestern will open its final regular season series of the year as the team travels to the Garden State to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (25-26, 8-13).