June 23, 2011
(OMAHA) - The California baseball team ended its story book season with an 8-1 loss to top-seed Virginia (56-11), Thursday night (June 23) in the College World Series at the brand new TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. The Golden Bears, who battled back from a potential final season due to budget cuts and six elimination games in the postseason, finished the year 38-23 and qualified for the CWS for the first time since 1992.
In the process, Cal head coach David Esquer was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Coach of the Year, sophomore first baseman Devon Rodriguez was named the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Houston Regional and sophomore second baseman Tony Renda was named the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year.
"Obviously we're proud to be one of the eight teams in the College World Series," said Esquer, whose squad fell to Virginia, 4-1, Sunday before rebounding to defeat Texas A&M, 7-3, on Tuesday. "We'll never forget this. This is a great experience for not only myself, but for my team. And as I addressed them (his players) at the end of the game, to experience this with your best friends, this is an experience that they'll never forget. They won't ever forget it."
The Bears lost to the Cavaliers for the second time in the CWS as Virginia starter Tyler Wilson went 7.2 innings with five hits, one run, no walks and five strikeouts to improve his record to 10-0. Trailing 6-0, Cal finally scored a run in the eighth inning on Renda's RBI single up the middle. With one out in the eighth, sophomore center fielder Darrel Matthews singled and advanced to third base on senior left fielder Austin Booker's single down the left field line. Renda then hit the ball past diving Virginia shortstop Chris Taylor to score Matthews.
Virginia scored the first two runs of the ballgame in the third inning off of Cal junior right-hander Dixon Anderson (4-4, 3.0 innings, four hits, two runs, one earned run, no walks, three strikeouts). Jared King led off the inning with a single and later scored on an Anderson wild pitch. Keith Werman followed King and reached base when his sacrifice bunt was thrown wildly to first by Anderson. Werman later scored on John Barr's sacrifice fly to left field for an unearned run.
The Cavaliers scored another unearned run in the sixth inning when with one out Kenny Swab singled sharply to center field and the ball skipped past Cal center fielder Darrel Matthews, allowing Swab to round the bases and score. Virginia tacked on three additional runs in the sixth on an RBI single to left field by Werman and an RBI double to left center field by Taylor off of Cal senior right-hander Kevin Miller (2.2 innings, five hits, four runs, no walks, five strikeouts), and an RBI single through the left side of the infield by Barr off of Bear freshman left-hander Louie Lechich to make the score 6-0.
The Cavaliers added two more unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning for the final 8-1 margin.
Booker finished the game with a pair of hits, while junior catcher Chadd Krist hit a double in the first inning to give him 27 doubles on the season - just one short of the school record for single season doubles of 28 held by Xavier Nady in 1998.
The final loss to Virginia could not dampen a stellar season for the Bears as they competed in their first College World Series in 31 years after capturing the NCAA Houston Regional and the Santa Clara Super Regional. Esquer has now led Cal to postseason three of the last four seasons. The Bears played in front of the largest crowd - 25,822 - in school history Thursday at TD Ameritrade Park, the new home of the College World Series that replaced Rosenblatt Stadium.