After Seven-Year Itch, Bears Go Dancing

Photo: The Cal baseball team celebrates in its locker room in the basement of Haas Pavilion as it learns its playoff fate. The Bears will be the No. 3-seed in the Long Beach regional.
Tollef Biggs/Photo
The Cal baseball team celebrates in its locker room in the basement of Haas Pavilion as it learns its playoff fate. The Bears will be the No. 3-seed in the Long Beach regional.





  • Printer Friendly Printer Friendly
  • Comments Comments (0)

The mood in the locker room of the No. 20 Cal baseball team was one of nervous chatter and idle speculation early Monday morning, anything really to keep from thinking that one dark thought that has haunted the team since 2005-what if we don't get in?

ESPN made the Bears wait just about as long as possible, announcing all but one other regional bracket for the NCAA tournament before flashing "California" on the screen as part of the Long Beach State regional. The room erupted, as for the first time since 2001, the Cal baseball team learned it was playoff-bound.

Some of the younger players were irritated that the team was slotted as a No. 3-seed, when just a week ago they were projected as No. 1-seeds in many, if not all, mock brackets.

The main source of that discontent was that both Arizona and Stanford were given No. 1-seeds, despite the fact that the Bears won the season series from both Pac-10 opponents. Unranked UCLA (31-25) earned the No. 2-seed in the Fullerton, Calif., regional.

"UCLA had a terrible year, they put together one good weekend and they're a two-seed," closer Matt Gorgen said. "Arizona, we beat them in league, and they get a one-seed. It sucks, but that's what happens when you don't prove yourself. You get screwed."

A steadying hand came from the corner of the room, as senior Josh Satin-whose walk-off 10th-inning home run salvaged a win in Sunday's season finale -held a wooden bat in his fingers and said, "Hey, we made it."

Which is more than two-time defending national champion Oregon State can say. The Beavers were the first defending champs left out of the tournament since Georgia in 1991.

"It's just a satisfying feeling," said senior pitcher Alex Rollin. "All that work through five years has paid off, and this is the best team I think we've had since I've been here, so it's exciting to finally go."

Cal (33-19-2) will face No. 7 San Diego (41-15), the No. 2-seed in the Long Beach regional, at 2 p.m. on Friday, with the other two teams, No. 1-seed Long Beach State (37-19) and No. 4-seed Fresno State (37-27), facing off at 6 p.m. the same evening.

The regional will continue all weekend until all but one team has accrued two losses. The winner of the regional will go on to face the winner of the Tempe, Ariz., regional at Packard Stadium in a best-of-three Super Regional series for the right to move on to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.

The Bears have faced all teams in the regional at least once this season, going 6-0 against them collectively.

"It's definitely one of the tougher (regions)," Rollin said. "But we've seen all the teams, we've seen what they've got, and we've got some pretty good talent, too. It's going to be a pretty good battle."

On March 2, Cal defeated the Torreros 5-0 in the San Diego Tournament, where on Feb. 28, the Bears also downed the Bulldogs 14-4. Cal beat Fresno State again on Apr. 2 at Evans Diamond, winning 5-4, and swept the Dirtbags in Berkeley in the March 28-30 series, outscoring Long Beach State 20-10 overall.

But this time, Cal will be playing at the Dirtbags' sandbox, Blair Field.

"It's a dead park, definitely a pitcher's park," said Rollin. "It's something Long Beach is used to, and we've been there before, so we've seen it. But it's going to be a lot different than Evans Diamond. Not a lot of home runs there."

Starting for the Bears on Friday will be junior ace Tyson Ross (7-3, 4.40 ERA), who will oppose another of the nation's best pitchers, the highly-touted junior Brian Matusz (11-2, 1.88). Beyond that, head coach David Esquer was unsure of his rotation.

"You don't know who you're playing and how they match up and those things," Esquer said.

Likely candidates for starting work could be Rollin, freshman Kevin Miller (who threw four shutout innings on Sunday), or the lefties Craig Bennigson and Chris Petrini.

Tags: 2008 NCAA BASEBALL TOURNAMENT


Contact Ryan Gorcey at [email protected]



Comments (0) »

Comment Policy
The Daily Cal encourages readers to voice their opinions respectfully in regards to both the readers and writers of The Daily Californian. Comments are not pre-moderated, but may be removed if deemed to be in violation of this policy. Comments should remain on topic, concerning the article or blog post to which they are connected. Brevity is encouraged. Posting under a pseudonym is discouraged, but permitted. Click here to read the full comment policy.
White space
Left Arrow
Baseball
Image Bears drop weekend series in Corvallis
Sundays haven't been kind to Cal's starting pitchers lately. A week ago, O...Read More»
Baseball
Image Cal tops Ducks in fifth walk-off win
Two days ago, the Cal baseball team couldn't scratch its way back from a 4-...Read More»
Baseball
Image Cal hungry as Ducks arrive in Berkeley
The last two weeks haven't just been rough for the Cal baseball team. They'...Read More»
Baseball
Image Bears down Ducks in fourth walk-off victory of the...
Freshman Michael Theofanopoulos swung at the first pitch h...Read More»
Baseball
Image ASU shuts out Cal to sweep series
Cal baseball coach David Esquer stormed out of the dugout, livid after pitc...Read More»
Baseball
Image Extra, extra: Bears fall in 17 to ASU
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Cal baseball team turned their hats ...Read More»
Right Arrow




Job Postings

White Space