June 21, 2011
(OMAHA) - After his team was scheduled to be discontinued after the 2011 season, California head coach David Esquer led the Golden Bears to the program's first appearance at the NCAA College World Series since 1992, while earning him the National Coach of the Year Award presented by the National College Baseball Writers Association.
"I didn't allow myself to go through many highs and lows," said Esquer about the 2011 season. "It really meant leading by example and being as even-keeled as I could, and just try to kind of give a sense of calm to a program that was going through some turbulent times."
This year's award winner, which was voted on by the NCBWA Board of Directors, was selected from a list that included all Division I Conference Coaches of the Year and the coaches of the 16 NCAA Super Regional teams. Esquer received the honor Tuesday (June 21) morning at TD Ameritrade Park prior to Cal's game versus Texas A&M.
The Bears' program has avoided the chopping block through fund-raising efforts on the way to their sixth appearance in the CWS.
"I thought back to one guideline and said how would I want my son to be handled if he was going through this situation," said Esquer. "I tried to make sure to provide that type of guidance for our players and help the alumni who were working so hard behind the scenes. Our job was to find an answer, not to assign blame or focus on the problem."
Esquer led Cal out of the loser's bracket in the Houston Regional and defeated Dallas Baptist in the Super Regional to advance to Omaha. The Golden Bears are 37-22 heading into Tuesday afternoon's game against Texas A&M. Cal lost its opening round game to No. 1 seed Virginia, 4-1, on Sunday afternoon.
Cal's 37 wins this season is the most victories since the 1991 squad went 37-27 and advanced to the final of the 1991 NCAA Wichita State Regional.
Cal entered the 2011 NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid out of the Pacific-10 Conference and was sent to the Houston Regional. After a 6-4 loss to Baylor in the opening game, Esquer's team got past Alcorn State, 10-6, and No. 13 Rice, 6-3, to face Baylor for the regional championship. Cal forced the if-necessary game with an 8-0 shutout behind the strong pitching performance of freshman left-hander Kyle Porter (three hits, no runs, no walks and a career-high nine strikeouts). First baseman Devon Rodriguez earned Most Outstanding Player of the Houston Regional honors with a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to lead Cal's dramatic come-from-behind 9-8 victory over Baylor to advance to the Super Regional against Dallas Baptist.
The Bears, led by Pac-10 Player of the Year Tony Renda, swept Dallas Baptist, 7-0 and 6-2, in Santa Clara to advance.
Entering the 2011 NCAA College World Series, Esquer has posted a 353-311-2 career record over 12 seasons as a head coach of the Golden Bears. It is the fourth appearance by Cal in the NCAA Tournament in Esquer's tenure.
NCBWA membership includes writers, broadcasters and publicists. Designed to promote and publicize college baseball, it is the sport's only college media-related organization, founded in 1962.
ALL-TIME WINNERS OF NCBWA NATIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR
2008 - Mike Batesole (Fresno State)
2009 - Brian O'Connor (Virginia)
2010 - Jim Schlossnagle (TCU)
2011 - David Esquer (California)
Day 6: Photo Gallery
Day 5: Feature: Following in His Father's Footsteps
Day 4: College World Series Starts, Bears Ready for Sunday Opener