No. 25 Cal Baseball Opens 2003 Season Versus UNLV
Jan. 27, 2003
BERKELEY, CA -
Fri. Jan. 31 vs. UNLV Evans Diamond, Berkeley, CA 2:00 p.m.Sat. Feb. 1 vs. UNLV Evans Diamond, Berkeley, CA 1:00 p.m.Sun. Feb. 2 vs. UNLV Evans Diamond, Berkeley, CA 1:00 p.m.
BEAR QUICK NOTES: The California baseball team, ranked 25th in Collegiate Baseball's Preseason Poll, opens the 2003 season hosting UNLV in a three-game series at Evans Diamond. The Golden Bears will be led by two preseason All-Americans, junior third baseman Conor Jackson and junior right-hander Matt Brown, and also return 11 other players who were members of Cal's 2001 NCAA Regional Squad. The Bears are predicted to be a NCAA Regional team by Baseball America and are selected to finish fourth behind USC, Arizona State and Stanford in the Pac-10 Coaches Preseason Poll. Cal will be attempting to qualify for NCAA postseason for the second time in David Esquer's four-year head coaching tenure with the Bears.
SERIES RECORD: Cal has a 4-5 overall series record against the UNLV Rebels. In the last meeting between the two schools, the Bears won one-of-three games in the 2002 season opener Feb. 1-3 in Las Vegas (W 2-0, L 4-2, L 10-5).
HEAD COACH DAVID ESQUER: The 2001 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Esquer, 37, is in his fourth season at Cal and has a career record of 88-80 (.524). He became only the 10th coach in the history of Cal baseball, which began in 1892, when he was hired June 10, 1999. 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. Rrior 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 2002 stats5 2B David Nicholson, So. .305, 23 RBI, 6 HR24 RF Brian Horwitz, Jr. .266, 25 RBI, 0 HR34 3B Conor Jackson, Jr. .382, 61 RBI, 12 HR44 1B James Holder, So. .500, 1 RBI, 1 HR6 LF Justin Nelson, So. .248, 22 RBI, 8 HR32 DH Scott Cheo, Jr. .398, 76 RBI, 23 HR*9 SS Jeff Dragicevich, Jr. .290, 22 RBI, 3 HR14 C Matt Einspahr, So. .213, 6 RBI, 0 HR3 CF Brad Smith, Sr. .163, 4 RBI, 1 HR30 RHP Matt Brown, Jr. (Fri.) 5-3, 3.70 ERA26 RHP Joe Todoroff, So. (Sat.) 0-2, 6.09 ERA31 RHP Brent Hale, So. (Sun.) 2-3, 5.74 ERA*at Saddleback (Junior) College
UNLV: The UNLV Rebels, coached by Jim Schlossnagle (2nd year as headcoach at UNLV, 30-30, .500), open their 2003 season at Cal. Top returning hitters for the Rebels are sophomore left fielder Joe Wickman (.437, 2 HR, 58 RBI), sophomore right fielder Eric Nielsen (.356, 3 HR, 51 RBI) and junior shortstop Ryan Ruiz (.326, 10 HR, 40 RBI). UNLV's tentative pitching rotation is junior left-hander Robbie Van (7-5, 5.29 ERA), junior left-hander Jake Vose (C.C. of South Nevada) and junior right-hander David Seccombe (2-2, 6.65 ERA)...in 2002, the Rebels finished 30-30 overall and 13-17 (fifth) in the Mountain West Conference...
CAL PLAYERS TO WATCH
Conor Jackson, third base, JR - preseason All-American in Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers; 2002 first team All-Pac-10 selection; member of the 2002 USA National Team; led the Pac-10 in total bases (152) and slugging percentage (.691), and was second with a .382 batting average in 2002; is a candidate for the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top collegiate baseball player...Matt Brown, right-handed pitcher, JR - preseason All-American in Baseball America; two-time Pac-10 Honorable Mention; 2002 Cape Cod League All-Star; is tied for fourth on the Cal all-time save list (14)...David Nicholson, outfielder/infielder, SO - 2002 Freshman Mid-Season All-American in Baseball American; 2002 Pac-10 Honorable Mention.
Scott Cheo, first base, outfield, JR - Saddleback College (Mission Viejo, CA)2002 Junior College All-American; 2002 SoCal Offensive Player of the Year; batted .398 with school-record 23 home runs and 76 RBI.
Allen Craig, infield, FR - Chaparral HS (Temecula, CA)Batted .485 with 11 runs, three doubles, two home runs and 10 RBI for USA Junior National Team; helped Team USA to bronze medal at World Junior Championship in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada; All-CIF Southern Section.
BEARS NOTED BY BASEBALL AMERICA
Baseball America selected Jackson and Brown as projected all-conference picks, and both are listed as top prospects for the 2003 Major League Amateur Draft. Jackson was also selected as the Pac-10's second-best pure hitter, Brown as having the league's best fastball and Nicholson was picked as being the conference's fastest runner.
IMPORTANT HOME DATES
Apr. 17-19 vs. USC
Cal faces the No. 6 Preseason ranked and defending Pac-10 champion Trojans.
May 9-11 vs. Stanford
The Golden Bears host Bay Area rival Stanford in the last regular season conference series.
Cal did not qualify for a NCAA Regional in 2002 with an 29-27 overall record (11-13, fifth in the Pac-10), but had two players, junior catcher John Baker and sophomore infielder Conor Jackson, earn first team All-Pac-10 honors and finish first (.383) and second (.382) in the Pac-10 batting race, respectively. The Bears also had four other players (Matt Brown, Trevor Hutchinson, David Nicholson, Carson White) selected honorable mention All-Pac-10, including right-hander Trevor Hutchinson, who finished his Cal career as the school's all-time career strikeout leader (284).
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 go on to be league MVPs in professional baseball - Jackie Jensen 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).
*Junior third baseman Conor Jackson played for the USA National Team last summer and is one of six Golden Bears to have competed for Team USA. Former Bear head coach Bob Milano (1978-99) was an assistant coach for the 1988 United States Olympic team and was the USA National Team coach in 1997. Paul Mohler was a trainer for the USA National Team in 1988.
*Since 1947, Cal has had 31 All-American selections, 72 All-Pac-10 selections and 40 major leaguers. Since 1978, the Bears have had 97 athletes play professional baseball.
*Conor Jackson's dad, John Jackson, plays Admiral A.J. Chegwidden on the television series JAG. Junior first baseman/outfielder Noah Jackson's godfather is Chicago Cubs manager Dusty Baker. Junior left-hander Matt Irwin was a member of the Cal band from 1999-2000 before again taking up baseball.
CALIFORNIA'S 2002 BASEBALL RECRUITING CLASS
Name Pos. Hometown High SchoolKevin Barnum, 6-2, 185 LHP Laguna Hills, CA Laguna Hills HSBrennan Boesch, 6-3, 195 1B/OF Los Angeles, CA Harvard-Westlake HSGarrett Bussiere, 6-2, 175 C Thornton, CO Northglenn HSCase Dahlen, 6-5, 210 LHP Palos Verdes Estates, CA Peninsula HSChris Errecart, 6-2, 200 OF Stockton, CA Lincoln HSTravis Howell, 6-2, 220 C Los Gatos, CA Los Gatos HSJordan Karnofsky, 6-0, 185 3B/OF/RHP Sacramento, CA Christian Brothers HSBrandon Morrow, 6-2, 165 RHP Rohnert Park, CA Rancho Cotate HSAlex Rollin, 6-2, 220 RHP Los Gatos, CA Los Gatos HSJosh Satin, 6-2, 170 SS Hidden Hills, CA Harvard-Westlake HS