Dec. 16, 2008
BERKELEY - University of California junior outfielder/first baseman/pitcher Blake Smith has been named the nation's 16th best player, according to The College Baseball Blog The College Baseball Blog. Smith was earlier selected to the Wallace Award Watch List as a potential player of the year candidate for the 2009 college baseball season. He was also named the seventh best prospect from Team USA by Baseball America in early September.
Smith was instrumental in the USA Baseball National (Collegiate) Team capturing the gold medal at the IV FISU World Collegiate Baseball Championship in the Czech Republic this past summer as the USA squad topped Japan, 1-0 in 12 innings for the title on July 27. He not only helped pace Team USA to an undefeated 24-0 record, he was the team's leading hitter during the national team's summer tour with a .327 average. Smith finished the summer 18-for-55 (.327) overall with five doubles, a triple, three home runs and 13 RBI in 20 games. He was also one of the national team's top relievers, sporting a 1-0 record with a 0.00 ERA and two saves, striking out 11 batters with only three hits and three walks in 9.0 innings. Another highlight for Smith was going 1-for-3 with a home run versus a Cuban squad that competed in the Beijing Olympics.
Last spring, Smith batted .296 with 11 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs and 43 RBI for Cal. On the mound, he was 3-0 with a 3.80 ERA and had 36 strikeouts in 21.1 innings. Smith also threw two runners out at the plate from right field during the year and hit a two-run homer against Long Beach State at the NCAA Regional in Long Beach.
The Golden Bears, who qualified for an NCAA Regional last year with 33-21-2 overall mark and 12-12 record in the Pac-10, begin their '09 season with two home games at Evans Diamond versus UC Riverside on Friday, Feb. 20 at 1:30 p.m., and Saturday, Feb. 21, at 1 p.m. Cal then hosts Vanderbilt on Sunday, Feb. 22 and Monday, Fed. 23. Both games against the Commodores are slated for 1 p.m.