No. 26 Cal Baseball Opens 2004 Season Versus BYU

Jan. 26, 2004

BERKELEY, CA -

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Thu. Jan. 29 vs. BYU Evans Diamond, 1:30 p.m.Fri. Jan. 30 vs. BYU Evans Diamond, 1:30 p.m.Sat. Jan. 31 vs. BYU Evans Diamond, 12:00 p.m.

BEAR NOTES: The California baseball team, ranked 26th in Baseball America's Preseason Top-50 Poll and featuring a freshman class that is rated the nation's fifth-best, opens the 2004 season by hosting Brigham Young in a three-game series at Evans Diamond. The Golden Bears will be led by seniors Matt Brown (right-handed pitcher), Brian Horwitz (right field) and Jeff Dragicevich (shortstop) - all four-year starters and members of Cal's 2001 NCAA Regional Squad. The Bears also return senior catcher Chris Grossman, a 2003 semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher. Cal is predicted to be a NCAA Regional team by Baseball America and is selected to finish sixth in the Pac-10 Coaches Preseason Poll. Cal will be attempting to qualify for NCAA postseason for the 10th time in school history and the second time in David Esquer's five-year head coaching tenure with the Bears.

SERIES RECORD: Cal has an 8-8 overall series record against the BYU Cougars. In the last meeting between the two schools, the Bears won one-of-three games Feb. 8-10, 2001 at Evans Diamond (L 2-1, W 5-3, L 4-0).

HEAD COACH David Esquer: The 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Esquer, 38, is in his fifth season at Cal and has a career record of 116-107 (.520). On June 10, 1999, he became only the 10th coach in the history of Cal baseball, which began in 1892. Esquer replaced longtime Bear mentor Bob Milano, who retired May 17, 1999 after 22 years as the Bears head coach and 29 years involved in the Cal baseball program. Esquer came to Berkeley after serving as the top assistant at Pepperdine from 1996-99. Prior to working at Pepperdine, he was the No. 2 assistant coach at Stanford under Mark Marquess from 1991-96. A shortstop at Stanford from 1984-87, Esquer was a starter on Stanford's 1987 College World Series championship team, earning All-Tournament honors after hitting .350 with six RBI in Omaha. He also earned All-Pac-10 Southern Division honors as a senior and went on to play professional baseball for four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, California Angels and Milwaukee Brewers organizations.

TENTATIVE CALIFORNIA LINE-UPNo.	Pos.	Player	                 2003 stats5	2B	David Nicholson, Jr. .283, 11 RBI, 1 HR15	CF	David Weiner, Sr. .296, 3 RBI, 1 HR24	RF	Brian Horwitz, Sr. .347, 47 RBI, 6 HR35	C	Chris Grossman, Sr. .341, 45 RBI, 8 HR44	1B	James Holder, Jr. .305, 38 RBI, 6 HR6	LF	Justin Nelson, Jr. .242, 32 RBI, 9 HR14	DH	Matt Einspahr, Jr. .271, 6 RBI, 0 HR4	3B	Allen Craig, So. .285, 16 RBI, 2 HR9	SS	Jeff Dragicevich, Sr. .292, 18 RBI, 2 HR30	RHP	Matt Brown, Sr. (Thu.) 4-8, 6.02 ERA19	RHP	Jesse Ingram, Jr. (Fri.) 2-3, 6.57 ERA41	RHP	Mike Padgett, Jr. (Sat.) 5-3, 3.43 ERA

BRIGHAM YOUNG: The BYU Cougars, coached by Vance Law (5th year at BYU, 128-106-1, .547), open their 2004 season at Cal. Top returning hitters for the Cougars are senior shortstop Ranger Wiens (.405, 4 HR, 55 RBI), junior catcher Casey Cloward (.356, 0 HR, 16 RBI) and junior outfielder Ryan Chambers (.327, 11 HR, 51 RBI). BYU's tentative pitching rotation is senior right-hander Paul Jacinto (10-5, 4.14 ERA), sophomore right-hander Bryce Searle (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and junior left-hander Patrick Wells (8-2, 1.29 ERA at Eastern Utah JC). In 2003, the Cougars finished 30-24 overall and 18-12 (second) in the Mountain West Conference.

CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brian Horwitz, right field, SR - 2003 Pac-10 Honorable Mention, batting .347 with team-high 47 RBI; school record holder for consecutive game hitting streak (23) and single-game RBI (eight)...Chris Grossman, catcher, SR - 2003 Pac-10 Honorable Mention, batting .341 with team-high hits (72), doubles (16) and total bases (112); 2003 semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top catcher...Jeff Dragicevich, shortstop, SR - 2003 Pac-10 Honorable Mention, batting .292 with a .326 Pac-10 average; three-year starter with career .300 Pac-10 batting average...Matt Brown, right-handed pitcher, SR - two-time Pac-10 Honorable Mention, leading the Bears in strikeouts (66) and innings pitched (86.7) in 2003; 2002 Cape Cod League All-Star; tied for fourth on the Cal all-time save list (14)...Jesse Ingram, right-handed pitcher, JR - in 2003 was 2-3 with eight saves, and had 49 strikeouts in 50.7 innings; was Apr. 8, 2003 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week; eight saves is second on Cal's single-season save list...Mike Padgett, right-handed pitcher, JR - was 5-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 2003; limited opponents to .244 batting average; picked up Pac-10 wins over USC, Washington and Arizona.

KEY NEWCOMERS

Brennan Boesch, outfield/first base, FR - Harvard-Westlake HS (Los Angeles, CA) - 2003 All-CIF Southern Section; 2003 All-Los Angeles Times; 2003 Pacific Palisades Post Athlete of the Year; batted .490 with seven home runs...Garrett Bussiere, catcher, FR - Northglenn HS (Thornton, CO) - drafted in 14th round by the Milwaukee Brewers; 2003 first team All-State; batted .471 with six home runs and 26 RBI; Junior Olympic Team member in 2001 and 2002...Chris Errecart, outfield, FR - Lincoln HS (Stockton, CA) - 2003 first team all-league, all-area MVP, all-state and Collegiate Baseball All-American; batted .531 with 12 home runs, 41 RBI and 20 stolen bases...Brandon Morrow, right-handed pitcher, FR - Rancho Cotate HS (Rohnert Park, CA) - 2003 first team all-league and first team All-North Coast Section; was 9-2 with a 0.61 ERA and had 84 strikeouts in 63.0 innings as a senior; drafted in the 40th round by the Anaheim Angles.

BEARS NOTED BY BASEBALL AMERICA

Baseball America selected Matt Brown as the nation's 14th top senior prospect for the 2004 Major League Amateur Draft. Baseball America also listed Cal freshmen Chris Errecart (34th) and Brennan Boesch (37th) among the Top 50 pro prospects for the class of 2007.

IMPORTANT HOME DATES

Feb. 27-29 vs. StanfordThe Golden Bears host Bay Area rival Stanford - the 2003 national runners-up - in non-conference series at Evans Diamond.

Apr. 30-May 2 vs. ArizonaCal faces the No. 16 preseason ranked Arizona Wildcats in the final 2004 Pac-10 Conference series at Evans Diamond.

2003 REVIEW

Cal did not qualify for a NCAA Regional in 2003 with an 28-27 overall record (10-14, seventh in the Pac-10), but had junior first baseman/third baseman Conor Jackson earn first team All-Pac-10 honors and three players - Brian Horwitz, Chris Grossman and Jeff Dragicevich - named Pac-10 Honorable Mention. Jackson was the Arizona Diamondbacks' first round draft pick and the 19th pick overall in the 2003 June Major League Amateur Draft. He concluded his Cal career last spring batting .388 with 14 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs, 44 RBI and a Pac-10-leading .538 on-base percentage. Jackson was selected a third team All-American by Baseball America and earned All-Pac-10 honors for the second year in-a-row. He was the first Cal baseball player to be drafted in the first round since right-handed pitcher Dave Masters was selected by the Chicago Cubs and was the 24th pick overall in 1985. Besides Jackson, the Bears had three other players drafted in the Major League Amateur Draft. Junior right-hander Brian Montalbo was picked in the seventh round by the Milwaukee Brewers and was the 189th pick overall. Montalbo signed after finishing the 2003 season 4-3 with a 5.61 ERA, and had 43 strikeouts in 61.0 innings. Horwitz was selected in the 26th round by the Oakland A's, and Brown was picked in the 29th round by the Chicago Cubs.

DID YOU KNOW?

*Cal won the inaugural College World Series title in 1947, defeating former President George Bush's Yale team, 8-7, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

*The Golden Bears have had two players become league MVPs in professional baseball - Jackie Jensen was the American League MVP in 1958 and Jeff Kent was the National League MVP in 2001.

*The 2003 Cal coaching staff of David Esquer, Dan Hubbs and Ron Witmeyer have been a part of 17 NCAA Regionals, four College World Series and two National Championships as either a player or coach.

*Cal is one of only 20 schools that have won NCAA Baseball titles and only one of 12 schools that have won more than one national championship (1947, 1957).

*Cal is the 14th winningest Division I baseball program in the nation with 2,145 wins in 122 seasons.

*Senior outfielder David Weiner's uncle is USA Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz. Freshman infielder/outfielder Mike Van Winden's great, great uncle is the late Cal football Hall of Famer Vic Bottari.

*The No. 5 national ranking of Cal's 2004 freshman class is the highest in school history and is the second highest ranking among Pac-10 schools, trailing only Arizona State (No. 3) and ahead of Arizona (No. 9) and Stanford (No. 11).

*Junior left-fielder Justin Nelson hit three home runs in a single game last season at Oregon State, including an inside the park home run. Nelson is now one of four players in Bear history to have hit three home runs in a game, joining Kevin Maas (versus Arizona State, Apr. 26, 1986), Matt Luke (versus George Mason, May 23, 1992 at NCAA Regional in Gainesville, Fla.) and Jon Zuber (versus George Mason, May 23, 1992 at NCAA Regional.)

*As a freshman, sophomore infielder Allen Craig hit a home run in his first collegiate at bat - Jan. 31, 2003 versus UNLV - and started the 2003 campaign with a 12-game hitting streak.

*In the past two seasons, the Bears have had two players - John Baker and Chris Grossman - selected as semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award as the nation's top collegiate catcher.

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