Cal Looks to Translate Its Potential Into More Wins

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Amid the faint buzz of the Cal baseball team's streak of eight wins in nine games, coach David Esquer was asked last week to comment on the Bears' recent string of success.

Looking out onto the field of Evans Diamond from the team's dugout, he shrugged, unmoved, and gave a quick, rather indifferent response:

"I don't know," he said. "I haven't really had the chance to notice."

The response reveals two things about Esquer.

First, he isn't ready to put an "Eight Wins In Nine Games" banner on Cal's left-field fence.

But more illuminating and significant is the fact that it shows Esquer believes his team is capable of accomplishing bigger and better things as the season rolls on.

"We're capable of being a lot better than what we are right now," Esquer said. "I believe there's plenty more left in our tank."

Whether or not Cal will be able to realize its full potential will be the million dollar question in the upcoming weeks.

The Bears (14-9) have one last series remaining before the start of Pac-10 play-a three-game set at UC Irvine that begins tonight at 7 p.m.-and are hoping that their promise will turn the corner, sooner rather than later.

"We're still in the process of assessing what we need to improve upon and finding out who we're going to be counting on for those big plays," Esquer said. "These are going to be a big couple of weeks for us."

Cal can look forward to facing stiff competition in the Anteaters (14-12), who in their most recent outing took a 6-4 decision over UCLA at Jackie Robinson Stadium.

With first-year head coach John Savage at the helm, UCI brings a balanced offensive attack to the plate, led by freshman Matt Anderson. He spearheads the Anteaters with a .431 batting average and 16 RBIs. A pair of juniors, Chris Miller (.337, six home runs, 30 RBIs), and Jon Horwitz (.354), also provide offensive punch for UCI.

The Anteaters have also proven to be excellent on defense, which Esquer is well aware of.

"They're going to be a tough team for us because they don't hurt themselves," Esquer said of UCI's defense. "It's really going to come down to who plays the best, because they're not going to give us much."

Sean Tracey (3-2) will be the likely starter for the Anteaters today, while senior Trevor Hutchinson (4-2) will get the nod once again for the Bears.

Cal received a blow this week after finding it will be without the services of its starting catcher John Baker.

The junior broke his hand after being hit by a pitch in Tuesday's 12-4 victory over San Francisco.

Esquer said sophomores Creighton Kahoalii or Chris Grossman will replace Baker for this weekend's series.

The length of playing time Baker will miss has yet to be determined.


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