Cal Baseball Travels to Long Beach State for Three-Game Series

Feb. 27, 2009


Fri., Feb. 27 at Long Beach State Blair Field, Long Beach, Calif. 6:30 p.m.Sat., Feb. 28 at Long Beach State Blair Field, Long Beach, Calif. 2:00 p.m.Sun., March 1 at Long Beach State Blair Field, Long Beach, Calif. 1:00 p.m.

BEAR NOTES: California (3-2) will make its first extended road trip of the 2009 season when it travels to Long Beach State (2-2) Feb. 27-March 1 for a three-game series at Blair Field. The Golden Bears return to the location of their 2008 NCAA Regional and look to avenge last year's 5-0 loss to the University of San Diego and a 9-2 loss to the host 49ers. Cal returns six starters from the '08 squad, including 2009 preseason All-Americans Brett Jackson and Blake Smith, 2008 Freshman All-American Kevin Miller, 2007 Freshman All-American Jeff Kobernus and 2008 George Wolfman Award winner Dylan Tonneson, among others. However, some of the Bears top performances so far this season have come from their younger players. Freshman outfielder Danny Oh leads Cal with a .455 average (5-for-11), including going 4-for-5 with four RBI Wednesday at Santa Clara and hitting a clutch two-run homer in his first collegiate at-bat Feb. 20 versus UC Riverside. Sophomore shortstop Brian Guinn is batting .429 (6-for-14) and was 4-for-4 with three RBI versus the Broncos. On the mound, freshman right-hander Matt Flemer threw 6.1 innings with four hits, two runs, no walks and 13 strikeouts in his college debut on Wednesday, while sophomore Brian Diemer threw a career-high 7.2 innings with three hits, three runs, one walk and eight strikeouts Feb. 23 in a 4-3 victory over Vanderbilt. Freshman closer Erik Johnson has been impressive as well, picking up a win and a save while striking out four batters in 2.2 innings. Nine of Cal's opponents this season were 2008 NCAA Regional participants, including Long Beach State, and the Bears' 2009 schedule is considered the nation's third toughest by Boyd's World.

SERIES RECORD: Cal has a 30-27 record against the Long Beach State 49ers. Last year, the Bears fell, 9-2, May 31 in the second game of the NCAA Regional in Long Beach to end their season. Earlier, Cal had swept the then No. 5-ranked 49ers (6-1, 10-6, 4-3) March 28-30 at Evans Diamond.

HEAD COACH David Esquer: Esquer, 43, is in his 10th season at Cal with a career record of 266-238-2 (.528). In 2001, he was Pac-10 Coach of the Year after the Bears went 34-25 and earned a berth to the Baton Rouge NCAA Regional (1-2). Last year, Esquer's squad was 33-21-2 and competed in the Long Beach NCAA Regional (0-2). Forty five Cal players have signed professional contracts since Esquer became coach, 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. On June 10, 1999, Esquer became the 10th coach in Cal baseball history. He came to Berkeley after serving as top assistant at Pepperdine (1996-99), and No. 2 assistant at Stanford (1991-96). A shortstop at Stanford from 1984-87, he started on the 1987 College World Series championship team, earning All-Tournament honors. Esquer went on to play professional baseball for four seasons with the Baltimore, California and Milwaukee organizations.

TENTATIVE CALIFORNIA LINE-UPNo.	Pos.	Player	2009 stats4	CF	Brett Jackson, Jr. .389, 2 RBI, 0 HR19	LF	Danny Oh, Fr. .455, 6 RBI, 1 HR23	2B	Jeff Kobernus, Jr. .318, 6 RBI, 1 HR37	RF	Blake Smith, Jr. .190, 1 RBI, 0 HR33	C	Dylan Tonneson, Jr. .353, 0 RBI, 0 HR5	1B	Mark Canha, So.	.389, 3 RBI, 2 HR31	DH	Rich Gorman, Jr. .250, 1 RBI, 0 HR26	3B	Michael Brady, Sr. .176, 5 RBI, 1 HR2	SS	Brian Guinn, So. .429, 3 RBI, 0 HR41	RHP	Kevin Miller, So. (Fri.) 0-0, 7.20 ERA37	RHP	Blake Smith, Jr. (Sat.) 0-0, 0.00 ERA51	RHP	Brian Diemer, So. (Sun.) 0-0, 3.52 ERA

PAC-10 RACE (AS OF Feb. 27)	Conference	                Overall	W	L	PCT	GB	W	L 	T	.PCTASU	0	0	.000	---	6	0	0	1.000Ariz	0	0	.000	---	4	1	0	.800OSU	0	0	.000	---	2	1	0	.667CAL	0	0	.000	---	3	2	0	.600USC	0	0	.000	---	2	2	0	.500Stan	0	0	.000	---	2	2	0	.500UCLA	0	0	.000	---	2	3	0	.400Oregon	0	0	.000	---	1	2	0	.333Wash	0	0	.000	---	1	2	0	.333WSU	0	0	.000	---	0	3	0	.000

NOTING LONG BEACH STATE: The Long Beach State 49ers, coached by Mike Weathers (eighth year at LBS, 265-154, .632), are 2-2 after losing two-of-three to USC (L 5-3, L 4-0, W 5-4) and defeating Loyola Marymount, 9-6, Wednesday in Long Beach. Top hitters for the 49ers are freshman second baseman Derek Legg (.429, 0 HR, 1 RBI), junior first baseman Taylor Krick (.400, 1 HR, 4 RBI) and sophomore shortstop Devin Lohman (.313, 0 HR, 3 RBI). Long Beach State's tentative pitching rotation is sophomore right-hander Jake Thompson (0-0, 0.00 ERA), sophomore left-hander Jeff Lease (0-0, 3.86 ERA) and freshman right-hander Andrew Gagnon (0-0, 1.80 ERA). In 2008, the 49ers finished 38-21 overall, 16-8 (first) in the Big West Conference and 1-3 in the Long Beach 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 a preseason All-Pac-10 selection by Baseball America and 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. This season, Jackson is batting .389 (7-for-18) with a team-high three doubles and two RBI, and has hit safely in all five games. He is second in the Pac-10 in walks (5), third in doubles (3) and ninth with a .522 on-base percentage.

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 only 4-for-21 (.190) at the plate with two doubles and an RBI, but on the mound has seven strikeouts in 5.2 innings.

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.

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 currently leads Cal with a .455 average after going 4-for-5 with four RBI Wednesday at Santa Clara. He is sixth in the Pac-10 with six RBI in four games. Oh is also hitting .571 (4-for-7) with runners in scoring position.

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 Wednesday 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 batter he faced, but went on to retire 19 of the next 20 batters. He is second in the Pac-10 with 13 strikeouts (five looking) and is eighth with 6.1 innings pitched.

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 third in the Pac-10 in innings pitched and seventh in the conference with a .115 opponent batting average.

CANHA'S CONTRIBUTIONS: Sophomore outfielder/first baseman Mark Canha is starting the 2009 season well, batting .389 (7-for-18) with a team-high five runs scored, a double and a team-high two home runs with three RBI. Canha also leads the team with 14 total bases (sixth in Pac-10) and is eighth in the conference with a .778 slugging percentage.

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 .318 (7-for-22) with a double, triple, home run and a team-high six RBI. He is sixth in the Pac-10 with his six RBI and seventh in the league with 13 total bases.

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 .353 (6-for-17) with two doubles 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, picking up a save in the season-opener versus UC Riverside (1.1 innings, no hits, no runs, one strikeout) and the win versus Vanderbilt (1.1 innings, no hits, no runs, three strikeouts). Johnson has yet to give up a hit and has four strikeouts in 2.2 innings.

GUINN'S GAME: Sophomore shortstop Brian Guinn had a career-game Wednesday 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 .429 (6-for-14) with a .467 on-base percentage.

CAL BITS: Cal is currently third in the Pac-10 with a .974 fielding percentage and is fourth with a .294 team batting average and fourth with a 3.40 team ERA...the Bears are also second in the league with six home runs, 13 doubles and 51 strikeouts...with the 8-7 win over UC Riverside on Feb. 20, the Bears are now 7-3 in season-openers under head coach David Esquer...Esquer, who was mentioned as the Pac-10's 'Coach on the Rise' by, 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 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 during the ABCA's January, 2010 convention...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...


*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 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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