Tie game. Bottom of the ninth. Two outs. Bases loaded.
Swing. Crack. Game.
Cal freshman and Maria Carrillo grad Andrew Vaughn, feeling good after smacking a three-run homer earlier in the game, hit a walk-off grand slam to lead the Golden Bears to a 13-9 win over visiting USC last Friday.
It’s a once in a lifetime, dream moment. Except that two days later, he did it again. No, it wasn’t a grand slam on Sunday, but this time his two-run, walk-off homer came in extra innings for even more dramatic effect.
“It’s almost every kid’s dream,” he said.
To pull it off twice in 48 hours?
“The first time, I was in shock and the second time I didn’t believe it was happening. It was such a blur to me,” he said.
On Friday, when he got his second strike, he choked up on the bat and reminded himself what he was looking for.
“I’ve just got to put this ball in play, put it somewhere,” he remembers thinking.
He put it over the fence. Game over.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a right-handed hitter hit a ball to that part of the park in my 18 years here,” Cal head coach David Esquer said.
Vaughn is riding the wave of a nearly unbelievable season.
The first baseman leads the Pac-12 in home runs and RBIs and was named Collegiate Baseball and Pac-12 Player of the Week for his heroics against the Trojans.
Watch the clip of Vaughn’s homer Sunday and you can almost feel his joy.
After rounding third, he flings his helmet so high into the sky that both of his feet leave the ground, scissor-kicking the air as he heads for home and into the arms of his jubilant teammates.
What’s all the more remarkable in the scene is that in all of Vaughn’s vaunted high school career at Maria Carrillo (he was The Press Democrat All-Empire Player of the Year as a senior), he hit just one homer. One.
That’s not to say he wasn’t effective at the plate. Vaughn hit .326 as a senior for the North Bay League champ Pumas.
Now one year later, that same Vaughn, albeit a slighter leaner, more muscular version, has smacked a team-leading 11 dingers for the second place Golden Bears.
“I have never had a freshman hit third and stay at third. Andrew has stayed at third,” Esquer said of his batting order. “That essentially is your best hitter. Your top two guys get on base and your No. 3 guy is the best chance to drive them in.”
Vaughn’s name is all over the Bears’ individual game high stats: RBI (7), doubles (2), and home runs (2 — twice). He’s batting .371 with a slugging percentage of .629, both stop stats among guys with significant playing time.
He’s first in hits (56), RBIs (43), triples (1), home runs (11), and total bases (95).
He even leads the team in being hit by a pitch. The guy takes one for the team more than any other Golden Bear.