Cal Baseball Hosts Bay Area Rival Stanford to Open Pac-10 Play

March 18, 2009

BERKELEY, CALIF. -

Sat., March 21 vs. Stanford Evans Diamond, Berkeley, Calif. 1:00 p.m.Sun., March 22 vs. Stanford Evans Diamond, Berkeley, Calif. 1:00 p.m.Mon., March 23 vs. Stanford Evans Diamond, Berkeley, Calif. 2:30 p.m.

BEAR NOTES: Cal (10-7) opens its 2009 Pac-10 slate against Bay Area rival and 2008 College World Series participant Stanford (3-8) in a three-game series, March 21-23, at Evans Diamond. The Golden Bears were 3-1-1 against the Cardinal last season, including winning 2-of-3 league games at Sunken Diamond last May. Stanford has not played since its March 6-8 series versus No. 2 Texas (1-2), while Cal has gone 2-2 in its last four games, winning one-of-three versus No. 24 Cal Poly at home and defeating Pacific, 12-2, Tuesday in Stockton. Junior center fielder Brett Jackson, a first-team preseason All-American in Baseball America, has hit safely in all 17 of the Bears' games this season, batting .403 (29-for-72, 4th in Pac-10) with eight doubles (2nd in Pac-10), a triple, three home runs and 13 RBI. Sophomore first baseman/outfielder Mark Canha was the March 3 Pac-10 Player of the Week after going 9-for-20 (.450) in Cal's wins over Vanderbilt, Santa Clara and three-game sweep at Long Beach State. Canha is batting a team-leading .406 (28-for-69, 2nd in Pac-10) and is second in the Pac-10 in total bases (50) and third in slugging percentage (.725). Sophomore shortstop Brian Guinn is third on the team with a .393 average (22-for-56, 6th in Pac-10) and freshman left fielder Danny Oh, who hit a two-run homer in his first college at-bat, is fourth on the team with a .390 average (23-for-59, 10th in Pac-10). The Bears lead the league with a .330 team batting average and six saves, with freshman right-hander Erik Johnson recording four saves (2nd in Pac-10). Cal's No. 1 starter is freshman right-hander Matt Flemer, who is 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA and a save, and has 25 strikeouts in 18.1 innings. Flemer's first collegiate outing was Feb. 25 at Santa Clara, pitching 6.2 innings with four hits, two runs, no walks and 13 strikeouts. He gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, then retired 19 of the next 20 batters with 13 K's. Nine of Cal's opponents this season were 2008 NCAA Regional participants, including Stanford. The Bears' 2009 schedule is considered the nation's third toughest by Boyd's World.

SERIES RECORD: Cal has a 218-240-1 record against Stanford, winning two-of-three Pac-10 games (W 4-3 in 10 inn., W 5-2, L 8-5), May 9-11, 2008 at Sunken Diamond. The Bears also won, 8-3, March 4 and tied, 5-5 in 13 innings, April 7 at Evans Diamond, to conclude the `08 season 3-1-1 against the Cardinal.

HEAD COACH David Esquer: Esquer, 43, (10th season, 273-243-2, .529) 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. .403, 13 RBI, 3 HR19	LF	Danny Oh, Fr. .390, 13 RBI, 2 HR23	2B	Jeff Kobernus, Jr. .320, 11 RBI, 1 HR37	RF	Blake Smith, Jr. .288, 14 RBI, 3 HR5	1B	Mark Canha, So. .406, 18 RBI, 6 HR33	C	Dylan Tonneson, Jr. .316, 7 RBI, 3 HR26	3B	Michael Brady, Sr. .257, 12 RBI, 2 HR15	DH	Marcus Semien, Fr. .231, 3 RBI, 0 HR2	SS	Brian Guinn, So. .393, 8 RBI, 0 HR49	RHP	Matt Flemer, Fr. (Sat.) 2-0, 3.93 ERA51	RHP	Brian Diemer, So. (Sun.) 1-1, 3.60 ERA		TBA (Mon.)

PAC-10 RACE (AS OF MARCH 18)	Conference	                Overall	W	L	PCT	GB	W	L 	T	.PCTASU	0	0	.000	---	14	3	0	.824OSU	0	0	.000	---	8	5	0	.615Ariz	0	0	.000	---	11	7	0	.611CAL	0	0	.000	---	10	7	0	.588Ore	0	0	.000	---	8	8	0	.500USC	0	0	.000	---	7	8	0	.467Wash	0	0	.000	---	6	9	0	.400WSU	0	0	.000	---	5	11	0	.313UCLA	0	0	.000	---	5	12	0	.294Stan	0	0	.000	---	3	8	0	.273

NOTING STANFORD: The Stanford Cardinal, coached by Mark Marquess (33rd year at Stan., 1329-668-7, .665), are 3-8 after winning one-of-three games (L 6-2, W 7-1, L 5-1) versus then-No. 2-ranked Texas March 6-8 at Sunken Diamond. Top hitters for the Cardinal are sophomore first baseman Jonathan Kaskow (.333, 1 HR, 3 RBI), sophomore right fielder Kellen Kiilsgaard (.267, 3 HR, 6 RBI) and sophomore third baseman Zach Jones (.256, 2 HR, 8 RBI). Stanford's tentative pitching rotation is junior right-hander Jeffrey Inman (0-2, 5.50 ERA), freshman right-hander Jordan Pries (2-0, 3.14 ERA) and freshman left-hander Scott Snodgress (0-1, 9.82 ERA). In 2008, the Cardinal finished 41-24-2 overall, 14-10 (second) in the Pac-10, 4-1 in the NCAA Stanford Regional, 2-0 in the NCAA Fullerton Super Regional and 2-2 (third tie) at the College World Series.

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. Jackson was honorable mention All-Pac-10 last season, and 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, he 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. Jackson led the team with 12 stolen bases (eighth in the Pac-10) and hit his first career grand slam May 2 versus Arizona. He finished the year batting .333 (23-for-69) with runners in scoring position. Jackson was a 2008 honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic selection as well, majoring in sociology (now an art major). This season, he is batting .403 (29-for-72, 4th in Pac-10) with eight doubles (2nd in Pac-10), a triple, three home runs (6th in Pac-10) and 13 RBI, and has hit safely in all 17 games. Jackson is first in the Pac-10 in hits (29), third in total bases (48), fourth in runs (17), fifth in on-base percentage (.476), seventh in slugging percentage (.667) and eighth in stolen bases (6).

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 national 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 21-for-73 (.288) at the plate with seven doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI. On the mound, Smith (0-1) has 20 strikeouts in 15.1 innings with a 4.70 ERA. He has also thrown two runners out at the plate from right field (March 4 versus USF, March 14 versus Cal Poly).

CANHA'S CONTRIBUTIONS: Sophomore outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha has hit safely in 12 of 13 games this season, batting .404 (21-for-52, 5th in Pac-10) with 12 runs (7th in Pac-10), four doubles and a team-high five home runs (2nd in Pac-10) with 11 RBI. Canha also has 40 total bases (3rd in Pac-10) and a .769 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. On Monday at Oklahoma, Canha was 3-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI. He is leading the team with eight multiple hit games.

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 (0-1) has 18 strikeouts in 19.2 innings with a 5.49 ERA.

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 Feb. 20 in the Bears' season-opening 8-7 win over UC Riverside. Oh is fourth on the team with a .390 average (23-for-59, 10th in Pac-10), with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, 13 RBI, and leads the team with a .462 average (12-for-26) with runners in scoring position. He was impressive Feb. 25 at Santa Clara, going 4-for-5 with four RBI, and was 4-for-5 with an RBI Tuesday at Pacific.

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 currently 2-0 with a 3.93 ERA and a save, a .236 opponent batting average, 25 strikeouts and only two walks in 18.1 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 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA and is ninth in the Pac-10 in opponent batting average (.200).

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 .320 (24-for-75) with four doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 RBI. He is sixth in the Pac-10 with 24 hits. On Feb. 23, Kobernus had the game-winning RBI in the ninth inning in the Bears' 4-3 victory 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 .316 (18-for-57) with five doubles, three home runs and seven 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 as he is second in the Pac-10 with four saves in eight appearances with a win, while striking out 14 batters in 11.0 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 earned two saves at Long Beach State (Feb. 27-28) and March 4 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 .393 (22-for-56, 6th in Pac-10) with three doubles, two triples, eight RBI, a .426 on-base percentage and is hitting .455 (10-for-22) with runners in scoring position.

CAL BITS: Junior left-hander Michael Bugary, who has battled injuries (shoulder, knee) the past two seasons, is currently 1-0 with a save, a 1.00 ERA (2nd in Pac-10) and has a team-high 26 strikeouts (8th in Pac-10) in 18.0 innings...with the 8-7 win over UC Riverside on Feb. 20, the Bears are now 7-3 in season-openers under David Esquer...Esquer has 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 by Baseball America to qualify for the 2009 NCAA Austin, Texas Regional 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 ABCA 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 the Bears to the first-ever CWS title in 1947 and Wolfman guided Cal to the 1957 national championship...the Bears have two sophomore infielders, Austin Booker and 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 (.375, 3-for-8) hit a home run in his first at-bat of the season Feb. 21 (game one) against UC Riverside and scored the winning run in the Bears' 4-3 victory over Vanderbilt...redshirt freshman designated hitter Chad Bunting hit a home run Tuesday at Pacific in only his second collegiate game and third collegiate at-bat...

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.

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