The third-seeded Bears advanced to the finals of the Texas A&M Regional when Mitchell Kranson delivered a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning for a 2-1 win over the host Aggies on Saturday.
Cal (36-19) will play Sunday night against the winner of the game between top-seeded A&M (46-12) and Coastal Carolina.
The Bears would need to be beaten Sunday night and again Monday to deny them their first Super Regionals berth since 2011. Freshman left-hander Mike Ladrech (7-4, 2.72 ERA) is expected to start Sunday night’s game.
“Win or lose, that was probably going to be one of the greatest games in program history,” Cal coach David Esquer said afterward. “Thank goodness, it turned into one of the greatest wins in program history, but that was two teams really going at it. It hinged on every pitch and there were so many heroes throughout the day.”
Cal starter Ryan Mason allowed just one run on six hits over eight innings, and relievers Dylan Nelson, Chris Muse-Fisher and Erik Martinez combined to surrender only five hits in six scoreless innings.
A&M scored its lone run in first inning, then was blanked the rest of the way by the Bears’ pitchers.
Devin Pearson went 4 for 7 including a double for Cal and Kranson had three hits.
The third-seeded Cal baseball team got off to a good start in the NCAA tournament, riding a strong starting pitching performance by sophomore Daulton Jefferies to a 9-3 win over Coastal Carolina on Friday at College Station, Texas.
The Bears (35-19) face top-seeded host Texas A&M (46-11) on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Aggies defeated Texas Southern 5-0 on Friday night at Blue Bell Park.
Junior right-hander Ryan Mason (6-3, 3.18) is expected to pitch for the Bears against A&M right-hander Grayson Long (9-0, 2.62).
Saturday’ game is not televised but fans can follow @Cal_Baseball on Twitter for updates.
The Bears picked up their first NCAA tournament win since beating Texas A&M at the 2011 College World Series, thanks for a sharp effort by Jefferies and a big day at the plate by his batterymate Mitchell Kranson.
Jefferies limited the Chanticleers (38-20) of the Big South Conference to one run on three hits over seven innings. He struck out five and won his sixth game of the season.
Kranson was 3 for 4 with a pair of RBIs. Aaron Knapp and Devin Pearson each had run-scoring doubles in the fifth inning as the Bears took the lead for good.
The Cal women’s season ended Sunday evening with a 72-66 loss to Texas in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Haas Pavilion.
The fourth-seeded Bears (24-10) for 22 points from Mercedes Jefflo and a near triple-double from senior guard Brittany Boyd. She finished with 15 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists.
Pac-12 Player of the Year Reshanda Gray fouled out in just 19 minutes after being held to seven points and three rebounds.
The fifth-seeded Longhorns (24-10) advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 11 years.
Jefflo’s 6-for-11 effort from the 3-point arc sparked a Cal attack that made 11 3-point baskets. But the Bears turned the ball over 20 times.
The Cal women won their NCAA tournament opener for the fourth straight year, beating Wichita State 78-66 at Haas Pavilion on Friday afternoon.
The fourth-seeded Bears (24-9) will play No. 5 seed Texas on Sunday. The Longhorns (23-10) beat Western Kentucky 66-64. Tipoff is 6 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPN2.
Reshanda Gray led five Cal players in double figures with 22 points. She also had nine rebounds. Mercedes Jefflo added 14 points and Brittany Boyd had 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Cal shot 52 percent and outrebounded the Shockers (29-5) by a 38-27 margin.
For Alabama-Birmingham coach Jarod Haase, Saturday’s NCAA tournament game against UCLA will be framed by an entirely different set of circumstances than the first time he faced the Bruins.
At stake for Haase and the 14th-seeded Blazers is a spot in next week’s Sweet 16. For a school that dropped its football program in December, the opportunity is a joyous occasion.
In 1993, when he and Jason Kidd formed an all-freshman backcourt at Cal, Haase took on the Bruins with a somber heart.
His father, Gary Haase, a 55-year-old Cal grad, had died unexpectedly the day before of causes stemming from an infection in his spleen after being checked into a hospital with an ankle infection.
Then-Cal coach Lou Campanelli gave Haase the option of returning to his family home in South Lake Tahoe rather than remain with the team in Los Angeles. He stayed, explaining that his father would have wanted it that way.
Haase and the Bears responded with a spectacular performance, routing the Bruins 104-82. It was UCLA’s worst loss at Pauley Pavilion since its opening 27 years before, and prompted legendary Bruins coach John Wooden – who attended the game – to say, “I never thought we’d be behind by this margin at home to anybody.”
Haase played 30 minutes and contributed 16 points and five assists to Cal’s most one-sided win over UCLA since 1923. Afterward, he allowed himself a quick smile as he left the court.
The Cal women host Missouri Valley champion Wichita State in their NCAA tournament opener Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Haas Pavilion.
Staff writer Stephanie Hammon explores whether the fourth-seeded Bears (23-9) are at risk of wearing down in the postseason because of depth issues. Click here for her story.
A few more NCAA tournament bracket tips to consider before entering your office pool:
First of all, do not fret when you get one wrong. Nobody’s perfect, and that especially holds true for picking the NCAA tournament. The folks in Las Vegas have calculated there are 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible bracket combinations (9.2 quintillion), which means you’re going to miss a few.
Unbeaten Kentucky is everyone’s favorite and is listed by oddsmakers as a 1:1 choice to win the national title. That creates a problem when filling out your bracket: If you go with Ashley Judd’s favorite team, you don’t separate yourself from the crowd. If you go any other direction, you do so at your own risk.
My suggestion, fill out two brackets: One with UK on the final line and the other with someone else.
If Kentucky does wind winning the title, the person who fared best on games not involving the Wildcats will win your pool.
A general rule of thumb: Be bold, but not crazy.
All four No. 1 seeds will not reach the Final Four. But don’t expect all of them to lose on the first weekend because they don’t. Eighty-eight percent of top seeds, in fact, advance to the second weekend. So if you want to pick a few upsets, avoid derailing any of the No. 1 seeds until the second week.
Roser Tarrago scored two goals and the No. 3 Cal women’s water polo team beat Arizona State 7-4 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Los Angeles.
The Bears (20-8) advance to Saturday’s semifinal against top-seeded Stanford.
Whoever winds up coaching Cal in 2014-15 won’t take the Bears to the NCAA tournament, according to ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi.
Lunardi’s first 2015 bracket projection includes six Pac-12 teams, but not Cal.
He has Arizona as a No. 1 seed, along with Wisconsin, Kansas and Michigan. The No. 2 seeds are Kentucky, Virginia, Duke and Villanova.
Other Pac-12 teams in his field are No. 8 seed Oregon, No. 9 Utah, No. 10 Colorado, No. 11 Stanford and No. 11 UCLA. Lunardi lists Colorado and Stanford among the last four teams in with a bye, and has UCLA playing in one of the “first four” games to enter the 64-team bracket.
Outscored 41-23 in the second half, the Cal women (22-10) were eliminated from the NCAA tournament after a 75-56 loss to No. 2 seed Baylor (31-4) at Waco, Texas.
Afure Jemerigbe scored 17 points to lead the seventh-seeded Bears and Brittany Boyd had 15 points and seven assists.
All-America guard Odyssey Sims led Baylor with 27 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.