BERKELEY – Baseball fans got a glimpse of the 2014 Golden Bears while also enjoying seeing former Cal standouts during the annual Cal Baseball Alumni Game, held Sunday (Oct. 20) at Evans Diamond. This year’s rendition of the Bears defeated the Alumni squad, 12-1, yet there were plenty of highlights during the day.
Junior third baseman Chris Paul hit his first of two run-scoring doubles in the first inning to give the 2014 Bears a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but former Cal infielder David Nicholson (2002-04) tied the contest with a home run that hit Evans Diamond’s new video-scoreboard over the left-center field fence.
That was the end of the scoring for the Alumni squad, but the game still featured three Golden Bear father and son combinations playing against each other – Mike and Aaron Knapp, Dan and Robbie McInerny and Mike and Jake Lawn.
Mike Knapp was a starting catcher for coach Bob Milano in 1985 and ’86 and son Aaron is a freshman outfielder. Aaron Knapp is the younger brother of Andrew Knapp, Cal’s All-American catcher who was drafted in the second round of the 2013 Major League Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Dan McInerny was a starting outfielder on Cal’s 1980 College World Series squad and is the Vice-Chairman of the Cal Baseball Foundation. His son, Robbie, is a freshman infielder and a placekicker on the football team.
Mike Lawn was a starting outfielder for the Bears from 1990-91 and helped propel Cal to the 1991 NCAA Regional final in Wichita, Kan. His son, Jake, a freshman pitcher/utility player, got his father to fly out to center field during the seventh inning of the Alumni Game.
“It was such a thrill to play against my son at Evans Diamond,” said Mike Lawn. “I couldn’t be more proud of his efforts here at Cal. The Alumni Game is a special occasion. It is so amazing to have five decades of Cal baseball players coming back to school to celebrate the program. That speaks volumes and shows Cal baseball is continuing to head in the right direction.”
Another story at Sunday’s Cal Baseball Alumni Game is the contributions of the Petke family, who has been mainstays of the Cal Alumni Weekend festivities for several years. Jonathan Petke was an outfielder for the Bears from 1993-96, while twins Sam and Adam played at Cal in the late 1990s-early 2000s. All three regularly compete for the Alumni squad, and Sam is Co-Chairman of the Ralph Walker Cup, the fundraising golf tournament for the Cal Baseball Foundation.
The 2014 Cal baseball team returns 28 players from last year’s squad and has an impressive freshman class. David Esquer’s (15th year) squad began fall practice on Oct. 7 and will conclude workouts on 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 the Bears’ dramatic come-from-behind victory over Baylor to advance Cal to the 2011 Super Regionals in Santa Clara.
Several members of the Bears’ squad played well this summer in semi-pro ball. 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.
Another player who had a solid summer was senior shortstop Mike Reuvekamp, who batted .262 with two doubles, a home run and 18 RBI this summer for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League. Last season, Reuvekamp produced three game-winning RBI for Cal – versus Michigan, Fresno State and Washington State.
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 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).
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 the Cal Baseball Classic 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 Cal baseball’s special events as well, including the third annual Fanfest at Evans Diamond to be held prior to the Bears’ season-opener on Feb. 14.