Cal Baseball Travels to No. 21 Arkansas and No. 16 Oklahoma
March 5, 2009
BERKELEY, CALIF. -
Fri., March 6 at Arkansas Baum Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark. 6:35 p.m. CTSat., March 7 at Arkansas Baum Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark. 2:05 p.m. CTSun., March 8 at Arkansas Baum Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark. 1:05 p.m. CTMon., March 9 at Oklahoma L. Dale Mitchell Park, Norman, Okla. 1:00 p.m. CT
BEAR NOTES: Cal (7-2), winners of six straight games, visits two ranked teams - No. 21-ranked Arkansas in a three-game series in Fayetteville and No. 16 Oklahoma Monday in a single game in Norman. Junior center fielder Brett Jackson, a first-team preseason All-American in Baseball America, leads Cal with a .462 average (18-for-39, 3rd in Pac-10) with six doubles (1st in Pac-10) and eight RBI. Freshman left fielder Danny Oh, who hit a two-run homer in his first college at-bat, is second on the team with a .433 average (5th in Pac-10) with a double, triple, home run and eight RBI. Another hot hitter is sophomore first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha, who was the March 3 Pac-10 Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 (.450) in Cal's wins over Vanderbilt (4-3), at Santa Clara (12-2) and three-game sweep at Long Beach State. He added seven runs, two doubles, two home runs and five RBI. Canha is batting .429 (6th in Pac-10) and, along with Jackson, has hit safely in all nine games. The Bears are first in the Pac-10 with a .336 team batting average and fourth with a 3.78 team ERA. Freshman right-hander Erik Johnson has recorded four saves (1st in Pac-10) in Cal's first nine games. Johnson also has a win and seven strikeouts in 6.0 innings. In the first two outings of his college career, freshman right-hander Matt Flemer earned a win and a save. Flemer started his first game Feb. 25 at Santa Clara, pitching 6.2 innings with four hits, two runs, no walks and 13 strikeouts. He gave a home run against the first batter he faced, then retired 19 of the next 20 batters with 13 strikeouts. Flemer picked up a save March 1 at Long Beach State to secure the Bears' sweep of the 49ers, throwing 2.0 innings with no runs, no hits, no walks and three strikeouts. Nine of Cal's opponents this season were 2008 NCAA Regional participants, including Arkansas and Oklahoma, and the Bears' 2009 schedule is considered the nation's third toughest by Boyd's World.
SERIES RECORD: Cal has a 1-0 record against the Arkansas Razorbacks, defeating Arkansas, 7-1, May 24, 1980 in the NCAA Midwest Regional in Tulsa, Okla. The Bears have a 1-2 record (L 9-5, L 9-8, W 16-14) against the Oklahoma Sooners, playing a three-game series in Norman, May 12-13, 1990.
HEAD COACH David Esquer: Esquer, 43, (10th season, 270-238-2, .531) was the 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year after the Bears went 34-25 and played in the Baton Rouge Regional (1-2). Last year, Cal was 33-21-2 and competed in the Long Beach Regional (0-2). Forty five Bears have signed pro contracts under Esquer, including first round picks David Cooper (1B, Toronto, 17th overall) in 2008, Brandon Morrow (RHP, Seattle, fifth overall) in 2006 and Conor Jackson (INF., Arizona, 19th overall) in 2003. Esquer came to Cal after serving as top assistant at Pepperdine (1996-99), and No. 2 assistant at Stanford (1991-96). A shortstop at Stanford (1984-87), he started on the 1987 College World Series championship team, earning All-Tournament honors. Esquer played professionally for four seasons with Baltimore, California and Milwaukee.
TENTATIVE CALIFORNIA LINE-UPNo. Pos. Player 2009 stats4 CF Brett Jackson, Jr. .462, 8 RBI, 0 HR19 LF Danny Oh, Fr. .433, 8 RBI, 1 HR23 2B Jeff Kobernus, Jr. .310, 7 RBI, 1 HR37 RF Blake Smith, Jr. .275, 5 RBI, 0 HR33 C Dylan Tonneson, Jr. .258, 2 RBI, 0 HR5 1B Mark Canha, So. .429, 7 RBI, 3 HR26 SS Michael Brady, Sr. .294, 8 RBI, 1 HR2 DH Brian Guinn, So. .370, 4 RBI, 0 HR15 3B Marcus Semien, Fr. .250, 2 RBI, 0 HR49 RHP Matt Flemer, Fr. (Fri.) 1-0, 2.16 ERA51 RHP Brian Diemer, So. (Sat.) 0-0, 2.84 ERA37 RHP Blake Smith, Jr. (Sun.) 0-0, 3.38 ERA
PAC-10 RACE (AS OF MARCH 4) Conference Overall W L PCT GB W L T .PCTASU 0 0 .000 --- 8 1 0 .889CAL 0 0 .000 --- 7 2 0 .778OSU 0 0 .000 --- 4 2 0 .667Ariz 0 0 .000 --- 6 4 0 .600Wash 0 0 .000 --- 4 5 0 .444USC 0 0 .000 --- 3 4 0 .429Oregon 0 0 .000 --- 3 5 0 .375WSU 0 0 .000 --- 3 5 0 .375Stan 0 0 .000 --- 2 5 0 .286UCLA 0 0 .000 --- 2 7 0 .222
NOTING ARKANSAS AND OKLAHOMA: The No. 21-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks, coached by Dave Van Horn (seventh year at UA, 242-135, .642), are 7-1 after winning two games over Valparaiso March 3-4 (7-3, 9-6). Top hitters for the Razorbacks are sophomore first baseman Andy Wilkins (.414, 4 HR, 13 RBI), senior second baseman Ben Tschepikow (.333, 2 HR, 6 RBI) and senior center fielder Chase Leavitt (.290, 0 HR, 0 RBI). Arkansas' tentative pitching rotation is junior left-hander Dallas Keuchel (1-0, 4.50 ERA), junior right-hander T.J. Forrest (0-0, 2.45 ERA) and freshman right-hander Drew Smyly (1-0, 1.00 ERA). In 2008, the Razorbacks finished 34-24 overall, 14-15 (fourth) in the SEC Western Division and 0-2 in the Stanford Regional. The No. 16-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, coached by Sunny Golloway (fifth year at OU, 136-81-1, .626), are 9-3 after winning two games over Arkansas-Little Rock March 3 (11-7, 16-6). Top hitter for the Sooners is junior shortstop Bryant Hernandez (.523, 2 HR, 14 RBI). Oklahoma's tentative pitcher for Monday is TBA. The Sooners play a three-game series versus UCLA prior to Monday's game versus Cal. In 2008, Oklahoma finished 36-26-1 overall, 9-17-1 (eighth) in the Big 12 and 2-2 in the Tempe Regional.
JACKSON'S HONORS: Junior center fielder Brett Jackson has been named a 2009 first-team preseason All-American by Baseball America, is on the Golden Spikes Award Watch List and is a preseason All-Pac-10 selection by Baseball America and Rivals.com. Jackson is Cal's first, first-team preseason All-America selection since outfielder Brennan Boesch in 2006. Earlier he was named the nation's 13th best player by The College Baseball Blog. An outstanding left-handed hitting outfielder who was honorable mention All-Pac-10 last season, Jackson was also selected the eighth-best prospect out of the Cape Cod League by Baseball America, hitting .238 with six doubles, four home runs, 14 RBI and eight stolen bases this past summer for the Cotuit Kettleers. Last spring, Jackson (6-2, 210 pounds) batted .307 (62-for-202, .302 versus the Pac-10) with seven doubles, four triples (fourth in the Pac-10), four home runs and 40 RBI for the Bears. He led the team with 12 stolen bases (eighth in the Pac-10) and hit his first career grand slam May 2 versus Arizona. Jackson finished the year batting .333 (23-for-69) with runners in scoring position. He was a 2008 honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic selection as well, majoring in sociology (now an art major). This season, Jackson is batting .462 (18-for-39, 3rd in Pac-10) with a team-high six doubles (1st in Pac-10) and eight RBI, and has hit safely in all nine games. He is first in the Pac-10 in hits (18), fourth in total bases (26) and stolen bases (4) and seventh in on-base percentage (.511) and slugging percentage (.667). Jackson is batting a team-best .500 (6-for-12) with runners in scoring position.
MULTI-TALENTED SMITH: Junior left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing outfielder/pitcher/first baseman Blake Smith is a second-team preseason All-American utility player in both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, and is on the Golden Spikes Award Watch List. Earlier Smith was named the nation's 16th best player, according to The College Baseball Blog, and was selected to the 2009 Wallace Award Watch List as a player of the year candidate. Additionally, he was 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 hitting a home run versus the 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. This season, he is 11-for-40 (.275) at the plate with five doubles (3rd in Pac-10) and five RBI, and on the mound has 10 strikeouts in 8.0 innings with a 3.38 ERA. Smith also threw a runner out at home plate from right field Wednesday versus San Francisco.
MASTERFUL MILLER: The Bears have another Wallace Award candidate in sophomore right-hander Kevin Miller. Miller was a 2008 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American last season, as well as honorable mention All-Pac-10, finishing 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA. He had 68 strikeouts in 71.1 innings and started his college career in impressive fashion, not giving up an earned run in his first 44.0 innings on the mound. Miller was second in the Pac-10 with a 2.90 ERA and a .196 opponent batting average. Some of Miller's top games in `08 included striking out a career-high eight batters in 6.2 innings versus Washington on Apr. 19, and defeating two-time defending national champion Oregon State in relief, throwing 6.2 innings with seven strikeouts. He ended up making 21 appearances with five starts, picking up six straight wins from March 11 through May 11. This season, Miller has 11 strikeouts in 10.2 innings with a 5.91 ERA, throwing 3.0 innings with two hits, one run, no walks and four strikeouts Wednesday versus USF.
OH'S HEROICS: Freshman outfielder/first baseman Danny Oh, a native of Mill Creek, Wash., started his college career with a bang, hitting a two-run homer in his first collegiate at-bat, pinch-hitting in the seventh inning of the Bears' season-opening 8-7 win over UC Riverside. Oh is currently second on the team with a .433 average (13-for-30, 6th in Pac-10), leads the team with three multiple RBI games and is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with runners in scoring position. He had a big game Feb. 25 at Santa Clara, going 4-for-5 with four RBI.
CANHA'S CONTRIBUTIONS: Sophomore outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha has hit safely in all nine games this season, batting .429 (15-for-35, 6th in Pac-10) with a team-high 10 runs (4th in Pac-10), three doubles and a team-high three home runs (3rd in Pac-10) with seven RBI. Canha also leads the team with 27 total bases (3rd in Pac-10) and a .771 slugging percentage (4th in Pac-10). He was the March 3 Pac-10 Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 (.450) with seven runs, two doubles, two home runs and five RBI in Cal's wins over Vanderbilt (4-3), at Santa Clara (12-2) and three-game sweep at Long Beach State.
FLEMER'S DEBUT: In one of the best pitching debut in Cal history, freshman right-hander Matt Flemer (El Cerrito, Calif.) threw 6.1 innings with four hits, two runs, no walks and 13 strikeouts Feb. 25 at Santa Clara. Flemer's 13 strikeouts were the most K's for a Bear hurler since Tyson Ross struck out 16 Oral Roberts batters on Mar. 22, 2007. Flemer yielded a lead-off homer to the first hitter he faced, but went on to retire 19 of the next 20 batters. He earned a save in his second outing Feb. 28 at Long Beach State, throwing 2.0 innings with no hits, no runs, no walks and three strikeouts. Flemer is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and a save, and has 16 strikeouts (4 th in Pac-10, 2 nd in Pac-10 with seven strikeouts looking) and no walks in 8.1 innings.
DIEMER DELIEVERS: Another strong pitching performance from a young Cal player was sophomore right-hander Brian Diemer Feb. 23 versus Vanderbilt. Diemer, who only made five appearances last season, threw a career-high 7.2 innings with three hits, three runs, one walk and a career-high eight strikeouts. He is currently eighth in the Pac-10 in innings pitched (12.2) and 10th in opponent batting average (.174).
KOBERNUS WATCH: Junior Jeff Kobernus has surely shown his versatility. As a freshman, Kobernus played in the Bears' outfield after staring as a shortstop in high school, earning Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-America honors after batting .331 with five doubles, a triple, a home run and 22 RBI. Last season, he moved to third base and hit .303 with 13 doubles, two triples, three home runs (including a grand slam against Loyola Marymount) with 27 RBI. This year, Kobernus is Cal's second baseman batting .310 (13-for-42) with three doubles, a triple, a home run and seven RBI. He had the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning in the Bears' 4-3 victory Feb. 23 over Vanderbilt.
TONNESON'S TIME: Junior catcher Dylan Tonneson continues to be one of the Bears' most consistent players. After taking over behind the plate for an injured Charlie Cutler early last season, Tonneson has become Cal's everyday catcher. He is currently batting .258 (8-for-31) with three doubles and two RBI after hitting .306 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 33 RBI as sophomore. Tonneson was the 2008 recipient of the George Wolfman Award as the team's most improved player.
BULLPEN ACE JOHNSON: Freshman right-hander Erik Johnson (Los Altos, Calif.) has already established himself as the Bears' top closer, leading the Pac-10 with four saves in five appearances with a win, while owning a 0.00 ERA and striking out seven in 6.0 innings. Johnson picked up a save in the Feb. 20 season-opener versus UC Riverside (1.1 innings, no hits, no runs, one strikeout) and the win Feb. 23 versus Vanderbilt (1.1 innings, no hits, no runs, three strikeouts). He has since earned saves in three of the Bears' last four games (two at Long Beach State, Wednesday versus San Francisco).
GUINN'S GAME: Sophomore shortstop Brian Guinn had a career-game Feb. 25 at Santa Clara, going 4-for-4 with three runs scored, a double and a career-high three RBI. Guinn's average has now risen to .370 (10-for-27) with two doubles, four RBI, a .433 on-base percentage and is hitting .455 (5-for-11) with runners in scoring position.
CAL BITS: Cal is second in the Pac-10 with a team .518 slugging percentage, 111 hits, 31 doubles and 171 total bases...on the mound, the Bears lead the league with five saves and 31 batters struck out looking, and are second with 85 total strikeouts...with the 8-7 win over UC Riverside on Feb. 20, the Bears are now 7-3 in season-openers under David Esquer...Esquer, who was mentioned as the Pac-10's 'Coach on the Rise' by Rivals.com, has now mentored seven All-Americans since 2000, including three freshman All-Americans in the last four years...last season, second baseman Josh Satin was Cal's first, first-team All-American in Baseball America since Troy Penix in 1992, and first baseman David Cooper was a member of four different All-America teams...in 2008, the Bears twice defeated eventual national champion Fresno State (14-4 in San Diego, 5-4 in Berkeley)...Cal's 2009 schedule is considered the third toughest in the nation by Boyd's World, behind UCLA and Stanford...the Bears are predicted to qualify for the 2009 NCAA Austin, Texas Regional by Baseball America as the No. 3 seed team behind Texas and Arkansas and ahead of Texas-San Antonio...Cal will be looking for back-to-back regional appearances for the first time since 1991-92 under former head coach Bob Milano...Milano, who guided the Bears from 1978-1999 and led them to three College World Series (third place finish in 1980), will be inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame in January, 2010...he will join Clint Evans and George Wolfman as Cal coaches in the ABCA Hall of Fame...Evans led Cal to the first-ever CWS title in 1947 and Wolfman led the Bears to the 1957 national championship...the 2009 Bears have two sophomore infielders, Austin Booker and Brian Guinn, who are sons of former Cal standouts and professional ballplayers Rod Booker (1979-80) and Brian Guinn, Sr. (1981-83), while freshman infielder Marcus Semien is the son of former Cal wide receiver Damian Semien (1990-93)...Booker has taken advantage of his opportunities this season, hitting a home run in his first at-bat Feb. 21 (game one) against UC Riverside and scoring the winning run in the Bears' 4-3 victory over Vanderbilt...
DID YOU KNOW?
*Cal won the inaugural College World Series title in 1947, defeating former President George H.W. Bush's Yale team, 8-7, in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
*The Golden Bears have had two players become league MVPs in professional baseball - Jackie Jensen (1947, 49) was the American League MVP in 1958 and Jeff Kent (was the National League MVP in 2001.
*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). The Bears have competed in five College World Series (1947, 1957, 1980, 1988, 1992).
*Geoff Blum, Cal's starting shortstop as a freshman on the Bears' 1992 College World Series team, had a game-winning homer for the Chicago White Sox in the 2005 Major League World Series.
*In 2006, the Bears had a school-record five players selected in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Amateur Draft, including junior right-hander Brandon Morrow, the fifth pick overall by the Seattle Mariners - the highest draft pick in Cal history.