Oct. 14, 2011
BERKELEY -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 at Evans Diamond during the annual Alumni Baseball Game, Saturday, Oct. 15 (Papa Bear game at 9:30 a.m. and Alumni game at 12 p.m.), as part of the 2011 Cal Baseball Alumni Weekend. Admission is free.
The Golden Bears' baseball program, which in 2011 enjoyed its best season in 31 years culminating in a fifth-place finish at the College World Series, began its official fall practice in preparation for the 2012 campaign on Oct. 7. Cal, under the direction of 2011 National Coach of the Year David Esquer, returns 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 first baseman Devon Rodriguez earned Most Outstanding Player of the Houston Regional honors with his game-winning hit versus Baylor, second baseman Tony Renda was named the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year and left-hander Kyle Porter earned Freshman All-America honors. 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.
Cal begins 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.