BERKELEY – Featuring 28 returners from last year’s squad and an impressive freshman class, the California baseball program began its preparation for the 2014 season with the start of 2013 fall practice Monday (Oct. 7) at Evans Diamond. The Golden Bears, directed by head coach David Esquer in his 15th season, opened fall practice with the first of several planned scrimmages that will also include the annual Alumni Game on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 1 p.m. at Evans Diamond as part of the Oct. 19-21, 2013 Alumni Weekend. Cal concludes fall practice Nov. 21.
The Bears return five members from the 2011 College World Series squad – seniors Derek Campbell, Michael Theofanopoulos, Kyle Porter, Vince Bruno and Devon Rodriguez. Campbell was the starting second baseman for the Bears as a freshman at the CWS, Theofanopoulos is a talented left-handed pitcher/utility player, Porter was a freshman All-American left-hander in 2011 and picked up Cal’s CWS victory over Texas A&M in Omaha, Bruno was an honorable mention all-conference selection in 2011 and Rodriguez was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 Houston Regional after knocking in the game-winning hit in Cal’s dramatic come-from-behind victory over Baylor to advance the Bears to the 2011 Super Regionals in Santa Clara.
Several members of the Bears’ squad played well this summer in semi-pro ball. Junior infielder Chris Paul and sophomore outfielder Brian Celsi shined for the St. Cloud (Minn.) Rox and the Fayetteville (N.C.) SwampDogs, respectively; while Cal standouts Brenden Farney, Porter and Dylan Nelson played well in the Alaska League; and Nick Halamandaris, Colin Monsour and Michael Lowden excelled in the Northwoods League.
The Bears will also be welcoming in 12 newcomers, with eight letter of intent signees – Andrew Buckley, a 6-2, 205-pound right-hander from Concord (De La Salle High School); Lucas Erceg, a 6-2, 190-pound right-handed pitcher/left-handed hitting shortstop from Westmont High School in Campbell, Calif.; Trevin Haseltine, a 6-3, 195-pound right-hander from Vacaville (Will C. Wood High School, named the third-best player in the Far West League this summer by Baseball America); Daulton Jefferies, a 5-11, 160-pound right-handed pitcher/infielder from Atwater (Buhach Colony High School, drafted 39th round by Miami); and Aaron Knapp, a 5-10, 160-pound left-handed hitting outfielder from Granite Bay (Granite Bay High School).
Also signing early national letters of intent with the Bears for 2013-14 were Alex Martinez, a 6-0, 160-pound right-hander from Union City (Logan High School); Alex Schick, a 6-6, 175-pound right-handed pitcher from San Diego (Cathedral Catholic High School, drafted 17th round by Houston) and Robbie Tenerowicz, a 6-0, 175-pound middle infielder from Moraga (Campolindo High School, drafted 39th round by Washington).
“We are excited for the beginning of fall practice to see our talented incoming freshman class, as well as our returning players, who will all be battling for playing time,” said Esquer, the 2011 National Coach of the Year. “Very few positions are secured, so that will make for a competitive environment.”
The schedule for the 2014 Cal baseball team is still being finalized, but the Bears will be hosting a four-game series against Texas, Feb. 14-16 at Evans Diamond, to open the 2014 campaign. Cal will also be hosting a tournament at Evans Diamond with Arkansas, Tulane and San Francisco March 7-9, as well as Pac-12 series versus defending National Champion UCLA (March 14-16), Utah (March 28-30), Washington (April 17-19), 2013 CWS participant Oregon State (May 2-4) and 2012 National Champion Arizona (May 16-18).
Baseball fans should be on the lookout for the announcement of the date of one Cal baseball’s special events as well, including the third annual Fanfest at Evans Diamond.