Cal Baseball Ranked 23rd in Perfect Game Crosschecker's Preseason Poll
Jan. 18, 2008
BERKELEY, CALIF. - The University of California baseball program has been ranked 23rd in Perfect Game Crosschecker's preseason ranking of the nation's Top 100 college teams. PG Crosschecker is the on-line scouting wing of Perfect Game USA, the world's largest independent baseball scouting service. Cal is the fifth-highest ranked team among the Pac-10 schools. Arizona is the preseason No. 1-ranked team, followed by No. 2 Arizona State, No. 7 UCLA and No. 16 Oregon State.
The Golden Bears feature a pair of pitchers - junior right-handers Tyson Ross and Matt Gorgen - who were earlier selected as 2008 Louisville Slugger preseason All-Americans by Collegiate Baseball newspaper, and junior first baseman David Cooper, who joined Ross and Gorgen as a member of the 2008 Wallace Award Watch List as national player of the year candidates. Both Ross, the Golden Bears' top starter, and Gorgen, Cal's top reliever, were tabbed as third-team preseason All-Americans.
Ross is coming off an outstanding 2007 summer season with the USA National Team. In eight appearances for Team USA, the 6-5, 215-pounder finished 4-1 and had a 0.82 ERA, striking out 39 batters with only seven walks in 43.2 innings. A first-team All-Pac-10 selection last spring for the Bears, Ross finished with a 6-6 mark and was second in the league with a 2.49 ERA and third in the conference with 120 strikeouts in 115.2 innings. His 120 strikeouts were second on the Cal all-time single-season strikeout list and he threw at least 6.0 innings in 15 of his 17 starts, and 7.0 innings or more 11 times, including a complete game at Stanford.
Last season, Gorgen was one of 40 players on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason Watch List and was honorable mention All-Pac-10, having struck out 75 batters in 61.0 innings with a 2.51 ERA (third in the Pac-10). He also led the Pac-10 with 31 appearances, was sixth with nine saves (second on the Cal all-time single season list), and 38 of his 75 strikeouts were called looking (second in the Pac-10). In 60 career appearances, Gorgen now has 109 strikeouts in 100.2 innings, and is eighth on Cal's career save list (11 saves).
Cal's top newcomer in 2007, Cooper was a transfer from Cal State Fullerton where he was a member of the 2006 College World Series All-Tournament team. An All-Pac-10 selection in 2007 for the Bears, Cooper batted a team-leading .382 with a team-best 14 doubles, 12 home runs and 55 RBI. He also paced Cal with a .627 slugging percentage, 30 walks and had a .450 on-base percentage.
The Bears also showcase junior left-hander Craig Bennigson, and sophomore outfielders Jeff Kobernus and Blake Smith - all honorable mention All-Pac-10 selections in 2007. Bennigson was 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA and notched Pac-10 wins versus USC and UCLA. Kobernus led the team with 13 stolen bases, was second on the squad with a .331 average and was named a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American. Smith finished his frosh season batting .320 with six home runs and 30 RBI, while also striking out 23 batters in 21.1 innings on the mound.
Cal, under the direction of ninth-year head coach David Esquer, opens its 2008 season with three home games at Evans Diamond during the Feb. 22-24 weekend. On Feb. 22, the Bears play Kansas State at 1:30 p.m.; on Saturday, Feb. 23 the Bears will play a doubleheader against Utah Valley State beginning at 11 a.m.; and on Sunday, Feb. 24, Cal will play Kansas State at 1 p.m. in a single game. Seven of the Bears' opponents this upcoming 2008 season were 2007 NCAA Regional participants, including two-time defending national champion Oregon State, who will visit Evans Diamond Apr. 4-6, 2008.