Cal Baseball's 2009 Schedule Ranked Third Toughest in the Nation

Feb. 3, 2009

BERKELEY, CALIF. - The University of California's 2009 baseball schedule has been ranked as the third toughest in the nation according to Boyd's World, one of college baseball's most respected ranking services. The Golden Bears will be facing nine teams that participated in the 2008 NCAA postseason, including hosting Vanderbilt in an early season match-up and entertaining Bay Area rival Stanford to open Pac-10 Conference play.

Cal, which 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. The Bears then host Vanderbilt on Sunday, Feb. 22 and Monday, Fed. 23. Both games against the Commodores are slated for 1 p.m.

In the Boyd's World rankings, the top 24 teams are either from the Pac-10, Big West or West Coast Conferences. Cal only trails UCLA and Stanford in the strength of schedule rankings, and is ahead of other Pac-10 teams Washington (4th), Oregon (5th), Washington State (7th), USC (10th), Arizona (12th), Oregon State (15th) and Arizona State (20th).

Additional highlights of the Bears' 2009 non-conference schedule include a three-game series at Long Beach State, Feb. 27-March 1; a three-game series at Arkansas March 6-8 and a single game at Oklahoma Mar. 9. The 49ers, Razorbacks and the Sooners all qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year, with Cal competing in the Long Beach Regional along with the University of San Diego and eventual national champion Fresno State. The Bears defeated Fresno State twice last season (14-4 in San Diego, 5-4 at Cal), both times defeating junior left-hander Justin Wilson, who ended up being the winning pitcher in the Bulldogs' national championship victory over Georgia.

Cal opens its 2009 Pac-10 slate March 21-23 versus Stanford at Evans Diamond with games times at 1 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The Cardinal, who qualified for the 2008 College World Series, was 1-3-1 against the Bears last season. In last year's conference series at Sunken Diamond, Cal won two-of-three contests.

Other 2008 postseason participants the Bears will face this season are UC Davis from the Big West Conference, and Pac-10 opponents Arizona State, Arizona and UCLA. Cal will also host the University of Oregon for the first time since the Ducks dropped baseball following the 1981 season. Oregon, led by former Cal State Fullerton coach George Horton, visit Berkeley for a three-game series, April 17-19.

Besides Stanford and Oregon, the Bears host Pac-10 series versus Washington State (March 25-28), 2007 and 2008 Pac-10 champion Arizona State (April 24-26) and USC (May 22-24) at Evans Diamond.

Cal had a stellar season in 2008, finishing alone in fourth place in the conference standings and qualifying for postseason play for the first time since 2001. The Bears featured two All-Americans - senior second baseman Josh Satin and junior first baseman David Cooper, plus All-Pac-10 right-hander Tyson Ross and Freshman All-American right-hander Kevin Miller. Cal also had six players drafted and signed by the Major Leagues (Cooper, Ross, Satin, Craig Bennigson, Charlie Cutler and Matt Gorgen).

Miller returns to the Bears for the 2009 season, along with junior standouts Blake Smith, Brett Jackson, Jeff Kobernus and Dylan Tonneson, among others. Smith was a standout pitcher/outfielder and leading hitter this summer for the USA National Team, Jackson was a 2008 Pac-10 honorable mention selection and a top center field prospect in the Cape Cod League, Kobernus was a 2007 Freshman All-American and Tonneson developed into Cal's everyday catcher in 2008.

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