BERKELEY -- With wide receivers coach Rob Likens a noted New York Yankees fan, head coach Sonny Dykes a former first baseman at Texas Tech and several former high school baseball studs on the California football team’s roster, the Bears’ Wiffle Ball home run derby competition on Saturday evening was, to say the least, a heated event.
Likens was notably disappointed in his performance – which resulted in just two dingers – because he committed a strategic error: Instead of letting the bat and ball do all the work, he tried to swing as hard as he could. As anyone who’s played an inning of Wiffle Ball knows, that’s the wrong plate approach.
Former Kentfield (Calif.) Marin Catholic shortstop – and, oh, by the way, Cal’s starting quarterback -- Jared Goff, though, didn’t have any such troubles, putting 12 balls over the cones in his team’s game, with a sweet lefty stroke evoking Ken Griffey, Jr.’s Swingman lgoo.
“You could hit a line drive an inch off the ground, and it’s still a home run. No fence,” Goff smiled.
Goff’s team of 12 scored 30 longballs, with defensive lineman Brennan Scarlett tying Likens’ mark with a pair, but that wasn’t enough to defeat defensive tackle Trevor Kelly’s team, bolstered by the first-year lineman’s 13 jacks.
“We didn’t have a champion. We’ve got two teams going into the finals,” said Dykes.
Goff, though, isn’t ready to put the bat down, quite yet.
“It’s not over? Is that what he said? I’m down. They should take the top 10 and put them in a derby,” said Goff, who may try to use his pull as the starting signal-caller to maybe put that together. “I’ll see what I can do.”
Goff got to break out the old lefty stroke that he’d honed for years with his father – Jerry Goff – a former Cal baseball player and Major Leaguer, who was in attendance on Sunday.
“Everything, I do righty, but I just swing lefty. My dad taught me when I was little. He did the same thing,” Goff said. “I got in a little rhythm. I put about eight out in a row. I was back in the BP days, boom, boom, boom.”
The big slugger of the day? Former second-team All-Peninsula pitcher and Cal long snapper Bradley Northnagel, who put 28 on the board in two rounds.
Dykes acquitted himself well, putting eight out.
“I think it’s probably been 20 years,” since he swung a bat, Dykes said. “I played softball for a couple years after I was done, and I don’t think I’ve swung one since then, so it’s been a while. I was a little sore this morning.”
Swingman? Try Goffman
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