Cal Ventures to 2014 Tiger Classic at Auburn
Fri., Feb. 21 vs. E. Tennessee St., Plainsman Park, Auburn, Ala. 2 p.m. CT
Sat., Feb. 22 at Auburn, Plainsman Park, Auburn, Ala. 6 p.m. CT
Sun., Feb. 23 vs. Arkansas PineBluff, Plainsman Park, Auburn, Ala. 10 a.m. CT
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BEAR NOTES: Cal (2-2), fresh off of splitting a four-game series versus then-No. 18 Texas to open the 2014 campaign, plays on the road for the first time this season when the Golden Bears travel to the Tiger Classic, Feb. 21-23, in Auburn, Ala. David Esquer’s squad faces East Tennessee State (2-2) Friday, host Auburn (2-2) Saturday and Arkansas Pine Bluff (0-6) Sunday. Cal was impressive in its season-opener, shutting out Texas, 7-0, behind freshman right-hander Daulton Jefferies (6.0 innings, six hits, no runs, one walk, four strikeouts) and junior second baseman/outfielder Derek Campbell (3-for-4, two doubles). Jefferies, in his college debut, was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week for his efforts. He is the first true freshman to start on the mound for the Bears in a season-opener since Esquer became the Cal coach in 2000. Campbell, who missed the majority of last season with a broken leg, hit three doubles in the Texas series and scored the winning run in Bears’ 2-1 game one win Saturday, leading off the eighth inning with a double and scoring on sophomore center fielder Devin Pearson’s game-winning RBI. Cal returns 23 players from last year’s squad and has an impressive freshman class. The Bears feature five veteran members from its 2011 College World Series team – seniors Kyle Porter (5.0 inn., 7 H, 1 run, 0 BB, 4 K vs. Texas), Vince Bruno (5-for-9, RBI vs. Texas) and Devon Rodriguez; and juniors Campbell and Michael Theofanopoulos. 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 the Bears’ dramatic come-from-behind victory over Baylor to advance Cal to the 2011 Super Regionals in Santa Clara. Another key veteran is senior shortstop Mike Reuvekamp, who last season produced three game-winning RBI for Cal – versus Michigan, Fresno State and Washington State. Two more top returners are sophomore right-hander Ryan Mason (won 2-1 win in relief vs. Texas, 3 K’s in 3.0 inn.) and Pearson, who both had stellar freshman campaigns. Mason became the Bears’ No. 1 starter and went 5-3 with a 3.76 ERA, while Pearson hit .302 with a team-high seven stolen bases. Two more Cal players to watch are junior infielder Chris Paul, who had eight home runs and 36 RBI last year; and senior right-hander Trevor Hildenberger, who picked up five wins and a save last season.
TENTATIVE CALIFORNIA LINE-UP
No. Pos. Player 2014 Stats
2 2B Derek Campbell, Jr. .313, 0 RBI, 1 HR
22 LF Vince Bruno, Sr. .556, 1 RBI, 0 HR
27 CF Devin Pearson, So. .200, 2 RBI, 0 HR
33 DH Devon Rodriguez, Sr. .143, 0 RBI, 0 HR
19 1B Nick Halamandaris, So. .188, 1 RBI, 0 HR
21 3B Brenden Farney, Jr. .250, 0 RBI, 0 HR
25 RF Brian Celsi, So. .200, 0 RBI, 0 HR
40 C Jesse Kay, Fr. .111, 0 RBI, 0 HR
37 SS Mike Reuvekamp, Sr. .077, 0 RBI, 0 HR
24 RHP Daulton Jefferies, Fr. (Fri.) 1-0, 0.00 ERA
16 LHP Kyle Porter, Sr. (Sat.) 0-0, 1.80 ERA
10 LHP Michael Theofanopoulos, Jr. (Sun.) 0-1, 3.60 ERA
HEAD COACH DAVID ESQUER: Esquer, 48, is in his 15th season with a career record of 408-371-2 (.524). After his team was scheduled to be discontinued following the 2011 season, Esquer led the Bears to the program’s first appearance at the College World Series since 1992, and on the eve of Cal’s 7-3 CWS victory over Texas A&M June 21, 2011, was named the National Coach of the Year by the National College Baseball Writers Association. Esquer’s award, 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. The Bears’ program was reinstated through fund-raising efforts and made its sixth all-time appearance in the CWS. 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. Cal entered the 2011 NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid out of the Pac-10. 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 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year Tony Renda, swept Dallas Baptist, 7-0 and 6-2, in Santa Clara to advance to the CWS. It was the fourth appearance by Cal in the NCAA Tournament in Esquer’s tenure, including three NCAA regionals in the last four years (the first time in school history). 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, and in 2010 the Bears were 29-25 and played in the Norman, Okla. Regional (0-2). Sixty seven Bears have signed pro contracts under Esquer, including first round picks Brett Jackson (CF, Chicago Cubs, 31st overall) in 2009, 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.
NOTING TIGER CLASSIC: East Tennessee State, coached by Tony Skole (15th year at ETSU), is 2-2. A top hitter for the Buccaneers is junior infielder Chris Riopedre (.400, 1 HR, 3 RBI), and their tentative starter versus Cal is senior left-hander Clinton Freeman (0-1, 4.05 ERA). Auburn, coached by Sunny Golloway (1st year at Auburn), is 2-2. A top hitter for the Tigers is senior catcher Blake Austin (.300, 0 HR, 5 RBI), and their tentative starter versus Cal is senior left-hander Michael O’Neal (0-1, 1.50 ERA). Arkansas Pine Bluff, coached by Carlos James (3rd year at UAPB), is 0-6. A top hitter for the Golden Lions is freshman outfielder/pitcher is Jerimiah Figueroa (.368, 0 HR, 2 RBI), and their tentative starter versus Cal is TBA.
SERIES RECORD: Cal will be playing East Tennessee State, Auburn and Arkansas Pine Bluff for the first time in school history.
2014 PAC-12 STANDINGS (2-20-14)
W L PCT W L T .PCT
Oregon State* 0 0 .000 4 0 0 1.000
Oregon* 0 0 .000 4 0 0 1.000
USC 0 0 .000 4 0 0 1.000
UCLA** 0 0 .000 3 1 0 .750
Washington 0 0 .000 2 1 1 .625
Arizona 0 0 .000 3 2 0 .600
Arizona State* 0 0 .000 2 2 0 .500
CALIFORNIA 0 0 .000 2 2 0 .500
Stanford 0 0 .000 2 2 0 .500
Utah 0 0 .000 2 2 0 .500
Washington State 0 0 .000 1 3 0 .250
**2013 National Champions
*2013 NCAA Tournament participant
CAL AMONG PAC-12 STAT LEADERS: Early in the 2014 season Cal is third in the Pac-12 with a .987 fielding pecentage and .240 opponent batting average, and fourth with a 2.75 team ERA. Individually, senior outfielder Vince Bruno is second in the conference with a .556 batting average and junior second baseman/outfielder Derek Campbell is second in the league with three doubles.
RODRIGUEZ’S FAMOUS HIT: Senior Devon Rodriguez will forever be known in Cal baseball lore for his clutch game-winning hit versus Baylor as he helped bring back the Bears from a 7-1 deficit by going 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI, including the game-winning RBI single with two outs and two strikes in Cal’s 9-8 victory to clinch the 2011 Houston Regional. Rodriguez was named the Houston Regional Most Outstanding Player after going 8-18 (.444) with a six RBI during the Bears’ five regional contests. His fame also coincides with former KALX announcer Danny Friesinger’s enthusiastic call of the winning hit that sent Cal to the Santa Clara Super Regional Rodriguez's Famous Hit. Rodriguez is back to full health after playing the entire 2013 season with a torn labrum (batting .277 with seven doubles, seven home runs and 40 RBI) and redshirting in 2012 after suffering injuries to both his shoulder and knee. He has played in 151 games in his Cal career with a .278 average (156-for-561), 25 doubles, one triple, 15 home runs and 96 RBI. Rodriguez, tabbed 2014 second-team preseason all-conference by College Sports Madness, has also hit two grand slams, including March 16, 2013 at Utah.
CAL’S WALK-OFF SUCCESS IN 2013: Cal had six walk-off wins last season, including the final game with Mitchell Kranson’s game-winner May 20 versus Gonzaga. Shortstop Mike Reuvekamp notched three game-winning RBI, with a game-winning hit April 21 versus Washington State, a game-winning RBI in the 10th inning Feb. 16 versus Michigan and a game-winning sacrifice fly in the seventh inning March 9 versus Fresno State. Other walk-off heroics for the Bears include catcher Andrew Knapp’s (2013 All-American, Phillies second round draft pick) game-winning RBI in the 11th inning in the season-opener Feb. 15 versus Michigan, and outfielder Brian Celsi getting the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning Feb. 17 versus Michigan. Cal’s other walk-off win was March 7 versus Fresno State when second baseman Brenden Farney had the game-winning sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.
CAL BASEBALL ON FACEBOOK: Cal baseball fans can enjoy videos, photos and other Golden Bear highlights on the official Cal Baseball Facebook page.
BETTER THAN EVER EVANS DIAMOND: Evans Diamond, which has served as the home of Cal baseball since 1933, received a major upgrade with the installation of a new lighting system and scoreboard last spring. Eight 90-foot light poles were erected around the field that now support nighttime television broadcasts, team practice and training. A modern electronic scoreboard, measuring 38 feet wide by 31 feet high, was also installed in left-center field. The new scoreboard offers scoring, game information, as well as fixed advertising and a full color video board measuring 24 feet wide by 14 feet high. Entering the 2013 season, Cal was the only Pac-12 school without permanent lighting at its baseball facility. With the Pac-12 Networks showing eight Cal home games this season, the ability to play night games gives Cal maximum opportunity to be televised by the Networks. In addition, the upgrades will allow the Bears to be eligible to host NCAA Regional contests at Evans. The project was funded by a combination of donations and increased ticket and sponsorship revenue as a result of the upgrade. The first-ever night-time competition at Evans Diamond was March 28 for the Bears’ 2013 Pac-12 opener against USC in front of a record crowd of 2,133 fans. The new scoreboard was first unveiled May 10, 2013 versus Arizona State. The project was designed by Brereton Architects of San Francisco and constructed under the direction of Overaa Construction of Richmond.
PORTER’S FRESHMAN PERFORMANCES: In what would have to be considered one of the best freshman pitching performances in Cal baseball history, senior left-hander Kyle Porter was 6-0 with a 1.89 ERA and two saves (four starts and 25 appearances) in 2011. Porter also had 57 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 57.0 innings and was named a Freshman All-American by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, Perfect Game and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers. He had one of the biggest wins in school history when on June 21, 2011 he pitched 6.0 innings (seven hits, three runs, one walk, four strikeouts) versus Texas A&M to help give the Bears their first victory (7-3) in the College World Series since 1980. Porter was a member of the 2011 Houston Regional All-Tournament Team as well after throwing a career-high 6.2 innings with three hits, no runs, two walks and a career-high nine strikeouts June 5 versus Baylor in the Houston Regional.
QUICK BEAR HITS: As a freshman, Derek Campbell filled in for an injured Tony Renda (pulled right quad) at second base for the 2011 Super Regional and CWS, hitting .389 (7-for-18, 2B, three RBI) and playing solid defensively...Campbell, drafted in the 36th round by the Chicago Cubs last June, is back after suffering a broken leg March 3, 2013 at Houston...senior outfielder Vince Bruno returns after redshirting last season after hip surgery. Bruno batted .323 overall and .321 versus the Pac-12 in 2012 and was honorable mention all-conference in 2011...senior right-hander Trevor Hildenberger had only 11 appearances prior to last season, but developed a sidearm delivery and won five games with a save in 2013, including a career-high 7.0 innings with five strikeouts versus Washington April 27.
BEAR POSTSEASON NOTES: Cal is now 43-25 (.632) in NCAA postseason games all-time, including 7-3 in 2011 (1-2 in the CWS, 2-0 in first-ever NCAA Super Regional and 4-1 in the NCAA Houston Regional). Head coach David Esquer has eight postseason wins, passing George Wolfman for second on the school’s all-time list behind Bob Milano’s 20 postseason wins. The last time the Bears won six postseason games in a row was 1957, and the seven postseason wins is the most for a Cal squad since the 1980 team had eight. Cal’s 38 victories in 2011 were the most wins since the Bears’ 1988 CWS squad won 40 games.
CAL IN THE WORLD SERIES: With the 7-3 victory over Texas A&M on June 21, 2011, the Bears won their first College World Series game since defeating Miami, 4-3, on June 12, 1980. When Cal played Virginia in front of a crowd of 25,833 on June 23 at TD Ameritrade Park, it was the largest crowd to ever watch the Golden Bears play baseball. Cal won the inaugural College World Series title in 1947 under head coach Clint Evans, defeating former President George Bush’s Yale team, 8-7, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Evans was instrumental in establishing the CWS. The Bears won the national title again in 1957 under head coach George Wolfman with a 1-0 victory over Penn State. Cal also placed third in the 1980 World Series under head coach Bob Milano, and was seventh in the CWS in 1988 and 1992 under Milano. 2011 senior left fielder Austin Booker’s father, Rod, was the starting shortstop on the Bears’ 1980 squad, while Major League star Jeff Kent was a member of Cal’s 1988 College World Series team. Similar to the 2011 season in which they faced the tournament’s No. 1 seed (Virginia), the Bears played the top seed in 1992, Miami, losing to the Hurricanes, 4-3, in 13 innings.
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. The Bears’ program began in 1892 and is now in its 122nd season. George Bush, Sr., sent a letter of congratulations to David Esquer following Cal’s 2011 College World Series appearance.
The Golden Bears have had two players go on to 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 to win NCAA Baseball titles and one of 14 schools with more than one national title (1947, 1957). The Bears have competed in six CWS (1947, 1957, 1980, 1988, 1992, 2011).
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.
Cal has three coaches in the ABCA Hall of Fame – Clint Evans (1930-54, led the Bears to the first CWS title in 1947); George Wolfman (1955-73, led Cal to the 1957 CWS title); and Bob Milano (1978-99, led the Bears to three CWS appearances (1980, 1988, 1992), including a third-place finish in 1980. The uniform numbers of Evans (13), Wolfman (66) and Milano (7) - along with All-American and four-time all-conference (1983-86) selection Lance Blankenship (12) - are retired and displayed on the Evans Diamond right field fence.