June 21, 2011

CBI Live: California 7, Texas A&M 3

CWS Scores & Schedule


Bears Live to Play Another Day

By Jimmy Jones

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com

(photos by Jimmy Jones)


OMAHA, Neb. – On the verge of elimination from the College World Series and with a fresh-faced teenager on the mound, Cal showed some of the tenacious resiliency that has become its trademark in its come-from-behind win over Texas A&M on Tuesday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park.


Not bad for a team that was told by Athletic Director Sandy Barbour just a scant 10 months ago that its sport would be cut from the Cal program in 2012 due to budget constraints. This despite fielding a young team that had reached the NCAA tournament the previous year.


The team was left twisting in the wind for six months until an announcement in April 2011 that the program had been saved with nearly $10 million worth of donations from alumni, boosters and the general public.


Cal baseball has a long and storied history that dates back to 1892. 


The Golden Bears won the first College World Series in 1947 and won another national title in 1957. Cal’s impressive alumni list includes Jeff Kent, Brett Jackson, Jackie Jensen, Brandon Morrow, Darren Lewis, Andy Messersmith, Xavier Nady, Tyson Ross and Geoff Blum, among recent or current big leaguers. The Bears have been to Regionals in two of the past three seasons and will end 2011 ranked in the top eight teams in the country.


So who did they turn to when they need a win to stay alive in the biggest stage in college baseball?


Coach David Esquer (pictured above) handed the ball to freshman Kyle Porter, who at this time last year was fresh from his senior prom at Oak Ridge High School in Eldorado Hills, Calif. Porter ranked fifth for the Bears with 51 innings the season.


All Porter did was pitch six strong innings against one of the best teams in the country before handing it over to reliever Matt Flemer, who closed the door with three innings of scoreless relief.


And once again the Bears survive to fight another day.


The irony of it all is not lost on the Cal players as they continue to be one of the more compelling stories in all of sports. Sophomore Tony Renda (left) may have summed it up best moments after the win.


“Yeah, we’ve been down all year,” Renda said. “We’ve had to fight back, whether it’s getting our program back, our alumni fought for us and we fought on the field every single game. Got off to a great start and won a lot of ballgames. We were down as a program. We were down in this tournament as well.


“We lose our first game. You’ve got to come back and win ballgames against very good teams or else you’re going home. We know the tasks and what we need to do. We know it’s going to be difficult, but we’re going to take it day by day and throw our best guys out there and keep turning over the lineup and try to get some wins and get to that championship series to make it even.”


Esquer, named the College Baseball Coach of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Tuesday, will have to play catch-up in lining up the next freshman class because the recruiting budget was frozen until recently.


It would appear that he has the opponent right where he wants it.