Bears Trek To Stanford For Pac-10 Showdown

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Brian Diemer has learned in his time at Cal not to take anything for granted when it comes to the NCAA Division I Baseball Championships.

With a three-game series against Stanford beginning today at 5:30 p.m., at Sunken Diamond, the Bears are 23-11 (8-4 in the Pac-10) and ranked No. 15 in the latest Baseball America poll. Five of those 11 losses have come against top 10 teams-No. 1 Arizona State and No. 9 Arkansas.

With 19 games left in the regular season, it would take a dramatic reversal of Cal's success to date for the team to not reach the 30-win plateau, which is key to impress the NCAA selection committee.

What that means is that, right now, things are looking pretty good for the Bears as far as making it back to an NCAA regional after missing in 2009.

But Diemer knows better than to start making plans. He was redshirting in 2007 when Cal finished 29-26 overall and became the first team ever to finish in fourth place in the Pac-10 and not make the tournament.

"I think once you guarantee you're five or six games over in the Pac and five or six over overall, you start to feel good about getting in," Diemer said. "You don't really get comfortable, but you start to know that you're going to be there."

Coach David Esquer was similarly dismissive when asked if there is a certain win total that his team shoots for in a given season. In the case of this team, he said, the players are "kind of blind to those types of things."

"They don't talk about streaks or standings," Esquer said. "They know that we've won one game a few times recently, and that's about it. And I really appreciate that about our guys."

Actually, the Bears have won 10 of their last 11 games, the most recent being Wednesday's convincing 13-6 victory over visiting Pacific. They have also won eight of their last nine conference games since being swept by the Sun Devils in their first Pac-10 series.

The Cardinal, meanwhile, is on a five-game winning streak of its own. Stanford jumped from being unranked to No. 22 by sweeping Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., last weekend. Esquer said that Stanford has vastly improved since it lost to Cal, 2-0, in a nonconference midweek game on April 5.

"They're playing better," he said. "I think they've kind of solidified their lineup a little bit ... and I think some of the younger kids are getting a little more comfortable."

Jonathan Kaskow, who only made a pinch-hit apperance in that loss to the Bears, is batting .455 with 22 RBIs since being inserted into the middle of the Cardinal's order.

Cal will also see better pitching from Stanford's weekend rotation compared to the Cardinal's mid-week committee. That, of course, is a two-way street, although the Bears' Chris Petrini pitched one of the best games of his career in the shutout.


Contact Matt Kawahara at [email protected]

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