Oct. 6, 2011
BERKELEY -The California baseball program, which in 2011 enjoyed its best season in 31 years culminating in a fifth-place finish at the College World Series, begins its official fall practice in preparation for the 2012 campaign this Friday, Oct. 7 at 2:30 p.m. at Evans Diamond. The Golden Bears, under the direction of 2011 National Coach of the Year David Esquer, return several key players from last spring's squad that made school history when it finished 38-23 overall and advanced to NCAA postseason for the third time in the last four years.
This past season sophomore first baseman Devon Rodriguez earned Most Outstanding Player of the Houston Regional honors with his game-winning hit versus Baylor, sophomore second baseman Tony Renda was named the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year and freshman left-hander Kyle Porter earned Freshman All-America honors. Junior catcher Chadd Krist joined Renda and junior right-hander Erik Johnson as first-team All-Pac-10 selections.
Cal captured the Houston Regional with a thrilling, 9-8, victory over Baylor with four runs in the bottom of the ninth, and swept through a best-of-three series with Dallas Baptist in the Super Regional, to advance to the College World Series. In the CWS, the Bears dropped a close 4-1 decision to top-seeded Virginia before defeating Texas A&M, 7-3, for its first win in Omaha since 1980. The memorable season came to an end with an 8-1 loss to the Cavaliers June 23.
The success in 2011 came despite an initial decision last September to discontinue the Cal baseball program due to pressure on the University's budget. Following a fundraising effort that has generated approximately $10 million in commitment, Golden Bear baseball was reinstated April 8.
Esquer has now coached 10 All-Americans in his 12-year tenure at Cal and has seen 59 of his players drafted by the Major Leagues, featuring four first-round draft picks. Seven Bears were drafted from the 2011 squad, including Johnson, a second round pick who signed with the Chicago White Sox.
This fall, Cal welcomes in nine newcomers, including four talented freshmen - infielders Brenden Farney and Chris Paul, and hurlers Michael Jordan (RHP) and Robb Woodcock (LHP) - who should bolster the Bears' prospects for this spring.
Farney is a 5-10, 190-pound left-handed hitter from Fairfield, who was drafted in the 36th round by the Oakland A's in the June, 2011 Major League Amateur draft. As a senior at Vacaville High School he batted .487 with 29 runs and 22 RBI, a .859 slugging percentage and a .543 on-base percentage.
A 6-2, 185-pounder from Aliso Viejo, Paul batted .495 as a senior at Laguna Beach High School with 38 runs and 49 RBI, a .851 slugging percentage and a .562 on-base percentage. He was the Orange Coast League MVP as a sophomore and a member of the 2011 California All-Region second team.
Jordan is a 6-1, 210-pound right-hander from Murrieta, who was a two-time Southwestern League first team honoree at Murrieta Valley High School. As a senior he had 55 strikeouts in 55.1 innings with a 3.47 ERA and two complete games. During Jordan's junior year he went 5-1 with a 3.65 ERA and had 71 strikeouts.
The 2011 ESPN RISE Cal-Hi Sports Player of the Year for small schools, Woodcock hails from Greenbrae and attended Marin Catholic High School where the 6-4, 195-pound left-hander was 12-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 110 strikeouts (only 26 walks) in 81.1 innings as a senior.
Also joining the Cal baseball program this fall is freshman outfielder Brian Celsi, freshman right-hander Keaton Siomkin, freshman left-hander Chris Muse-Fisher, sophomore catcher Mike Reuvekamp and junior right-hander Ryan Wertenberger.
"We are extremely happy we were able to bring in some talented and versatile players who can add depth to our program," said Esquer. "Offensively, we are looking for Chris (Paul) and Brenden (Farney) to contribute immediately. And, with the exit of some of our top pitchers from last season (Johnson, Dixon Anderson and Kevin Miller), we are also looking for Michael (Jordan) and Robb (Woodcock) to help us on the mound."
Cal baseball fans will not have to wait long to get a chance to see the 2011-12 Bears play as they will be competing against an Alumni squad during the annual Alumni Baseball Game, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 (Papa Bear game at 9:30 a.m. and Alumni game at 12 p.m.), as part of the 2011 Alumni Weekend.
Unfortunately, the Cal Baseball Foundation Golf Classic scheduled for Friday, Oct. 14, has been sold out.
The Bears begin the 2012 campaign with a three-game series versus Pacific, Feb. 17-19, hosting the Tigers Feb. 17 (1:30 p.m.) and Feb. 19 (1 p.m.) at Evans Diamond, while traveling to Stockton Feb. 18 for a 1 p.m. game at Klein Family Field.