Feb. 17, 2010
BERKELEY, CALIF. -
Fri., Feb. 19 Southern Utah Evans Diamond, Berkeley, Calif. 1:30 p.m. Sat., Feb. 20 Southern Utah Evans Diamond, Berkeley, Calif. 1 p.m. Sun., Feb. 21 Southern Utah Evans Diamond, Berkeley, Calif. 1 p.m.
California (24-29 overall, 9-15 ninth in the Pac-10 in 2009), led by returning All-Pac-10 performer Mark Canha, opens its 2010 season with a three-game home series versus Southern Utah, Feb. 19-21 at Evans Diamond. Junior Canha had a breakout year in 2009, leading the Bears with a .366 average (fifth in the Pac-10), 17 doubles, 75 hits, 130 total bases and a .634 slugging percentage. He also hit 12 home runs with 43 RBI and a .444 on-base percentage. The Bears' 2009 recruiting class was selected the 24th best in the nation, and third-best in the Pac-10, by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. The national publication selected Cal's 15 newcomers among the conference's top three, behind only 2008 College World Series participant Arizona State (2nd) and Bay Area rival Stanford (10th), and ahead of Oregon State (25th), Oregon (26th) and UCLA (33rd). The Bears' freshman class includes left-hander Justin Jones, a seventh round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox who will start Saturday. At Oakdale (Calif.) High School, Jones was 10-1 with 118 strikeouts and a 0.42 ERA as a senior, after going 12-0 with 124 strikeouts and a 0.40 ERA as a junior. He was a two-time Cal Hi Sports All-State honoree and the 2009 Modesto Bee Player of the Year. Cal's other weekend starters will be sophomore right-handers Erik Johnson (Friday) and Dixon Anderson (Sunday), who both excelled this summer in the Northwoods League and were named the league's top prospects by Baseball America. Johnson, a 6-3, 220-pounder, was the sixth-top prospect after going 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA, and 49 strikeouts in 59.0 innings as a starter for Alexandria (Minn.). Anderson, a 6-5 right-hander, played for Green Bay (Wisc.) and was the league's second-best prospect and a member of the South All-Star Team. He finished 3-2 with a 1.61 ERA and seven saves, recording 56 strikeouts in 56.0 innings over 23 appearances (five starts).
Cal will be playing Southern Utah for the first time in school history.
HEAD COACH David Esquer:
Esquer, 44, is in his 11th season at Cal with a career record of 287-265-2 (.520). He was the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year after the Bears went 34-25 and played in the Baton Rouge Regional (1-2). In 2008, Cal was 33-21-2 and competed in the Long Beach Regional (0-2). Fifty two Bears have signed pro contracts under Esquer, including first round picks Brett Jackson (CF, Chicago Cubs, 31st overall), David Cooper (1B, Toronto, 17th overall) in 2008, Brandon Morrow (RHP, Seattle, fifth overall) in 2006 and Conor Jackson (INF., Arizona, 19th overall) in 2003. Esquer came to Cal after serving as top assistant at Pepperdine (1996-99), and No. 2 assistant at Stanford (1991-96). A shortstop at Stanford (1984-87), he started on the 1987 College World Series championship team, earning All-Tournament honors. Esquer played professionally for four seasons with Baltimore, California and Milwaukee.
TENTATIVE CALIFORNIA LINE-UP No. Pos. Player 2009 stats 6 2B Brian Guinn, Jr. .315, 35 RBI, 2 HR 19 LF Danny Oh, So. .303, 35 RBI, 7 HR 14 3B Tony Renda, Fr. 5 1B Mark Canha, Jr. .366, 43 RBI, 12 HR 27 C Chadd Krist, So. .197, 10 RBI, 2 HR 33 DH Devin Rodriguez, Fr. 25 RF Jimmy Bosco, Fr. 15 SS Marcus Semien, So. .197, 7 RBI, 1 HR 2 CF Darrel Matthews, Fr. 35 RHP Erik Johnson, So. (Fri.) 3-6, 4.41 ERA 23 LHP Justin Jones, Fr. (Sat.) 48 RHP Dixon Anderson, So. (Sun.) 1-0, 3.98 ERA
NOTING SOUTHERN UTAH:
The Southern Utah Thunderbirds, coached by David Eldredge (sixth year at SUU, 121-153, .442), begin their 2010 season at Cal. Top returning hitters for the Thunderbirds are sophomore shortstop Bo Cuthbertson (.393, 0 HR, 15 RBI), senior left fielder Matt Sanford (.366, 5 HR, 23 RBI) and senior first baseman Bucky Aona (.293, 10 HR, 47 RBI). Southern Utah's tentative pitching rotation (`09 stats) is senior right-hander Steve Johnson (8-4, 5.00 ERA), senior right-hander Kyle Melling (7-3, 5.58 ERA) and senior right-hander Kyle Hamman (1-2, 12.43 ERA). In 2009, Southern Utah finished 27-24 overall and 16-7 in The Summit League (second).
PAC-10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR CANDIDATE CANHA:
Junior Canha had a breakout year last season, leading the Bears with a .366 average (fifth in the Pac-10) and finishing with 17 doubles, 75 hits, 130 total bases and a .634 slugging percentage. He also hit 12 home runs with 43 RBI and a .444 on-base percentage. Canha was the March 3 Pac-10 Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 (.450) with seven runs, two doubles, two home runs and five RBI in Cal's wins over Vanderbilt (4-3), at Santa Clara (12-2) and three-game sweep at Long Beach State (11-8, 9-6, 6-3). He added a team-best 24 multiple hit and 11 multiple RBI games during the 2009 campaign. In Baseball America's 2010 College Preview, Canha is predicted to be the Pac-10 Player of the Year and first-team All-Pac-10. He is also considered the Pac-10's best pure hitter and the top defensive first baseman.
CAL POWER PITCHING DUO ANDERSON AND JOHNSON:
Sophomore right-handers Dixon Anderson and Erik Johnson both enjoyed successful summers pitching in the Northwoods League and were named the league's second and sixth top prospects, respectively, by Baseball America. Anderson played for Green Bay (Wisc.) and finished the summer 3-2 with a 1.61 ERA and seven saves, recording 56 strikeouts in 56.0 innings over 23 appearances (five starts). He was selected to the South All-Star Team that competed in the Northwoods All-Star Game at Port Arthur Stadium in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Last spring as a redshirt freshman, Anderson was 1-0 with a 3.98 ERA and three saves in 20 appearances (one start), recording 37 strikeouts in 43.0 innings. He was the May 11 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week after notching a win and two saves (8.2 innings, eight hits, one run, eight strikeouts, 1.04 ERA) in a week. Anderson earned saves versus UC Davis May 5 and at UCLA May 8, forcing the Bruins into a game-ending double play with runners on first and third in the bottom of the ninth. He then picked up the win in relief May 10 at UCLA, throwing a career-high 6.2 innings with seven hits, one run, two walks and a career-high seven strikeouts. Anderson was a 2009 first-team Pac-10 All-Academic selection as well. Johnson, the sixth-top prospect in the Northwoods League, finished the summer 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA, and 49 strikeouts in 59.0 innings as a starter for Alexandria (Minn.). Last season he was 3-6 with a 4.41 ERA and four saves (ninth in the Pac-10) in 19 appearances and nine starts as a true freshman. Johnson had 55 strikeouts in 67.1 innings and threw a complete game in his final outing May 22 versus USC. Other top appearances included a career-high seven strikeouts versus College World Series participant Arizona State, a April 17 win over Oregon (8.0 innings, six hits, one run, one walk, six strikeouts) and a March 29 victory over Washington State (6.0 innings, six hits, one earned run, no walks, four strikeouts). Starting the 2009 campaign as Cal's closer, he earned a save versus San Francisco, two saves at Long Beach State, a save versus Vanderbilt and a save in the season-opener versus UC Riverside.
BEARS' YOUTH PARADE:
Cal's baseball program's 2009 recruiting class has been selected the 24th best in the nation, and third-best in the Pac-10, by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Besides left-hander Justin Jones being slated as the Bears' Saturday starter as a true freshman, four other Cal newcomers - third baseman Tony Renda, designated hitter Devin Rodriguez, right fielder Jimmy Bosco and center fielder Darrel Matthews - are likely starters for the 2010 season opener. Renda was a 2009 High School All-American and both San Mateo County and West Catholic Athletic Player of the Year. He ended his high school career as the Serra High School record-holder for career hits (152). Left-handed hitting Rodriguez batted .402 with 14 doubles, eight homer runs and 34 RBI last spring for William Hart High School. He set a school record with a 21-game hitting streak as a junior when he hit .384 with 13 doubles and 24 RBI. Bosco set a Jesuit High School batting record as a junior when he hit .505, earning Delta River League MVP and first-team All-Sac-Metro honors. Left-handed hitting center fielder Matthews, coached by former Arizona standout and Cal assistant Bob Ralston, was two-time first-team All-Bay Valley Athletic League and a 2009 MaxPreps second-team all-state selection, batting .440 with 10 doubles, eight triples and nine stolen bases as a senior.
ADDITIONAL BEAR NOTES:
Cal is 7-3 in season-openers under David Esquer...in 2009, the Bears were second in the Pac-10 with 65 home runs...former head coach Bob Milano, who guided Cal from 1978-1999 and led the Bears to three College World Series (third place finish in 1980), was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame Jan. 8, 2010...he joins Clint Evans and George Wolfman as Cal coaches in the ABCA Hall of Fame...Evans led the Bears to the first-ever CWS title in 1947 and Wolfman guided Cal to the 1957 NCAA championship...the Bears have two junior infielders, Austin Booker and Brian Guinn, who are sons of former Cal standouts and pro players Rod Booker (1979-80) and Brian Guinn, Sr. (1981-83), while sophomore infielder Marcus Semien is the son of former Cal wide receiver Damian Semien (1990-93)...Guinn, drafted in the 10th round by the Chicago White Sox out of high school, is a .315 career hitter and is listed as the fastest runner in the Pac-10 by Baseball America...sophomore left fielder Danny Oh is another top returner for Cal...as a freshman Oh hit a home run in his first collegiate at-bat and went on to bat .303 with seven home runs and 35 RBI...he is the Pac-10's seventh top prospect for the 2011 draft by Baseball America...
*Cal won the inaugural College World Series title in 1947, defeating former President George H.W. Bush's Yale team, 8-7, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
*In 2009 the Bears had three players - CF Brett Jackson (first round Chicago Cubs), 2B Jeff Kobernus (first pick of the second round Washington Nationals), OF Blake Smith (second round Los Angeles Dodgers) - selected in the first two rounds of the Major League Amateur Draft.
*Cal has had two players become league MVPs in professional baseball - Jackie Jensen was the American League MVP in 1958 and Jeff Kent was the National League MVP in 2001.
*Cal is one of only 20 schools that have won NCAA Baseball titles and only one of 12 schools that have won more than one national championship (1947, 1957). The Bears have competed in five College World Series (1947, 1957, 1980, 1988, 1992).
*Geoff Blum, Cal's starting shortstop as a freshman on the Bears' 1992 College World Series team, had a game-winning homer for the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 Major League World Series.