June 17, 2011
(OMAHA) -It was another great day for the Cal baseball team Thursday in Omaha. All you have to do is ask head coach David Esquer.
"Someone asked me today how my day's been and I said `any day you wake up in Omaha it's a great day.'"
Not only did Esquer and his Golden Bears have a great day, they also made the day great for another special group of Bears. After getting a little rest Thursday morning following a long and busy travel session Wednesday, the Cal baseball team loaded up the bus in the afternoon and headed to Creighton University for their second practice in Omaha.
As the bus pulled up to the practice facility near downtown, a streak of gold suddenly came running up to bus in the form of 12 little Bears, also known as the Omaha Memorial Park Cal Bears T-Ball team.
It seems that a few months ago when their season started, this group of 4-6 year olds picked Berkeley's version of the Bears to go all the way to the College World Series.
"Cal rated high," said Scott Jochim, one of the team's coaches. "But we assumed any team that came close to losing their program would play like they never had played before. I guess we were right."
"Our kids don't know how wide-reaching our story has been," offered Esquer. "It hits me too that people outside of California have kind of adopted us as a team to care for. It's different for our guys to be the center of attention day after day after day. When you're out here it's a big deal and they're kind of getting a taste of what it's like to be a big hit in Omaha."
The two sets of Bears seemed to hit it off quickly and have a lot in common as they greeted each other and then posed for a group picture. It was quite a site with the Berkeley version dressed in blue uniform tops and hats with the Big C prominent on both, while their Omaha namesakes were decked out in authentic Cal baseball hats and gold t-shirts with the word "Bears" emblazoned upon their chest.
The little Bears were encouraged to yell "we are the Bears" but one youngster decided to say "pizza" instead, which drew laughter all around. After taking the group photo all of the Bears combined for one ferocious growl.
"We were the Bears and obviously we were rooting for the Bears all season," said Jochim. "We heard the bad news to start the season but what a wonderful story now that you guys are here. What a wonderful chance for these kids to meet the players and obviously we'll be rooting for the Bears all the way."
His four-year-old son Neal also granted CalBears.com an interview. His thoughts for the day - eight head nods and the word "yeah" a couple of times.
Several of his teammates offered chants of Go Bears and one even did four Bear growls for the camera.
"They're little kids playing the game like we were when we were their age," said sophomore outfielder Darrel Matthews. "It was great seeing the type of support they gave us. I remember when I was little college was almost like the big leagues. I know how much these kids look up to us and we just want to be good role models for them."
The Omaha Bears will be rooting on the Golden Bears when they face national top seed Virginia in their first CWS appearance in 19 years on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT. The game will be televised live on ESPN and ESPN3. Mike Patrick (play-by-play), Robin Ventura (analyst) and Jen Brown (sideline reporter) will handle the announcing duties.
All of Cal's CWS games will also be on the radio on Green 960 AM and KALX 90.7 FM. Roxy Bernstein will call the action on the Green 960 AM broadcast that will also be streamed live on CalBears.com and begin with a pre-game show 30 minutes prior to gametime. Danny Freisinger has the play-by-play on KALX 90.7 FM and kalx.berkeley.edu.
The other half of Cal's CWS bracket two features defending champion South Carolina and Texas A&M.
The Bears' second CWS game is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21. A Cal victory over Virginia would match the Bears against the winner of the South Carolina/Texas A&M contest at 6 p.m. CT/4 p.m. PT. A loss would pit Cal in an elimination game against the South Carolina/Texas loser at 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT.
Action in the College World Series begins with bracket one play on Saturday, June 18. North Carolina squares off with Vanderbilt at 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m. PT and Florida meets Texas at 6 p.m. CT/4 p.m. PT.
Tickets for Cal's first two CWS games are now on sale over the phone only at (800) GO BEARS. The Cal Athletic Ticket Office is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
All tickets are reserved and are $28 per game with a limit of four tickets per account. There will also be a $7 handling fee. Seating will be reserved in Cal sections and tickets will be allocated based on Bear Backer priority points.
Visit NCAA.com for more information about the College World Series.