Oct. 21, 2012
BERKELEY -Even though the official California 2013 baseball season doesn't start until February, there was excitement at Evans Diamond Sunday (Oct. 21) as the Golden Bears hosted the annual Alumni Baseball Game. The 2013 Cal squad, mentored by 2011 National Coach of the Year David Esquer, edged past a talented Alumni squad, 5-3.
"There have been a lot of great Alumni Games in the past, but I think this might have been the greatest Alumni Games ever," said Esquer, whose Bears begin the 2013 season Feb. 15-17 with a three game series versus Michigan at Evans Diamond. "It was a wonderful turnout by former players and their families. We talk a lot about the Cal Baseball Family, and today was a true example how great that family is."
Several former Cal baseball standouts were in attendance Sunday, some playing for the Alumni team and others returning to Evans Diamond just to show their support for the program. Among the players on the field for the alumni team were - Marcus Semien and Matt Flemer from Esquer's 2011 College World Series squad, infield Brian Oliver who was a 1996 Freshman All-American, and Nate Brown and Jonathan Petke from the Bears' 1992 College World Series team. Current Major Leaguers Brett Jackson (Chicago Cubs) and John Baker (San Diego Padres) were also part of the festivities.
A highlight of the 2012 Cal Alumni Game was the father-son combination of Mike and Andrew Knapp. Andrew Knapp, a junior catcher for the Bears, had an RBI double and an RBI single for Cal. Father Mike Knapp, a standout catcher for former coach Bob Milano in 1985 and '86, had two hits on the day, including an RBI single in the sixth inning. Jonathan Petke tied the contest for the Alumni team with an RBI single in the seventh inning,
The current Cal squad scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to seal the win. Freshman John Soteropulos had an RBI groundout that scored redshirt freshman Brian Celsi in the eighth inning, and junior infielder Mike Reuvekamp hit a line drive homer over the left field fence in the top of the ninth inning for the 5-3 victory.
Cal began fall practice on Sept. 7 and wrapped up its preparation for the 2013 campaign with Sunday's Alumni Game. Esquer is his 14th season and this year's team features 11 players who were members of the 2011 College World Series squad.
This year's Cal squad returns two All-American left-handers - Justin Jones, who was a freshman All-American in 2010, and Kyle Porter, a freshman All-American in 2011. The Bears also feature junior catcher Knapp, who was outstanding this summer in the prestigious Cape Cod League for the Chatham Anglers, batting .293 with 13 doubles, eight home runs and 29 RBI in 40 games.
Two other members of the 2013 Bears played well this summer - sophomore infielder Chris Paul for St. Cloud (Minn.) and sophomore right-handed junior college transfer Dylan Nelson for Rochester of the Northwoods League. Paul batted .271 in 42 games and led the Northwoods League with 20 doubles, along with six triples, a home run and 26 RBI. Nelson, who will be a sophomore in the spring after transferring from College of San Mateo, had 39 strikeouts in 32.0 innings for the Honkers.
Standout junior first baseman Devon Rodriguez returns after sitting out the majoring of the 2012 season with a knee injury. Rodriguez earned Most Outstanding Player of the 2011 Houston Regional after knocking in the game-winning hit in Cal's dramatic come-from-behind victory over Baylor to advance the Bears to the 2011 Super Regionals, hosted by Cal at Santa Clara's Schott Stadium.
The Bears showcase 13 newcomers, with eight earlier letters of intent signees (Cal Baseball Signs Eight) that include outfielder/first baseman Nick Halamandaris, an eighth round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners. Cal's group of newcomers also includes freshman outfielder Devin Pearson from Carmel, Calif. (Pearson Video Feature).
The schedule for the 2013 Cal baseball team is still being finalized, with potential games being televised on the Pac-12 Networks, but the Bears will be hosting a three-game series against Michigan, Feb. 15-17 at Evans Diamond to open the 2013 campaign. Cal will also be hosting Pac-12 series versus USC, Oregon, Washington State, Arizona State and Stanford this spring at Evans Diamond. Cal Baseball fans should make plans to attend the second annual Fan Fest, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013 at 11 a.m. at Evans Diamond, as well. Following the Fan Fest festivities, there will be a Blue-Gold intrasquad scrimmage beginning at 1 p.m.