For the first time since 2011, the California baseball team is postseason-bound.
During Monday’s selection show on ESPNU, the Golden Bears (34-19) were selected as a No. 3 seed in the College Station, Tex., regional, which also includes No. 1 seed Texas A&M, No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 4 seed Texas Southern.
Cal finished the regular season with 18 Pac-12 wins – tied for the most in program history with the 1995 team guided by Bob Milano.
Love the draw for @Cal_Baseball. Just saying in 2011 we were matched up with the TCU regional...— Devon Rodriguez (@devrodriguez3) May 25, 2015
Picked to finish eighth in the conference in the preseason poll after finishing 10th last season, the Bears finished third in the league, behind Oregon State and UCLA – tying the highest finish ever under head coach David Esquer. The last time Cal finished third was in Esquer’s second season, 2001. Before that, Cal finished tied for third in 1992, and third, outright, in 1991, and tied for third in 1988. Cal finished second in 1985.
Cal’s 34 regular-season wins tie the two highest outputs under Esquer, from 2001 and 2005.
The Bears will start the postseason with a match against No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina (38-19) on Friday, May 29, at 10 a.m., Pacific (12 p.m., local), televised on ESPNU at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
[BACK FROM THE BRINK: Cal Baseball Returns to National Stage]
In four previous trips to the postseason (2001, 2008, 2010, 2011), Esquer has guided Cal to an 8-9 record, with one appearance (2011) in the College World Series.
Cal is led by a bullpen that’s posted a 3.67 ERA in 135.0 innings, and an offense that led the Pac-12 with 42 home runs during the regular season. The Bears offense hit .275 on the year, slugged .409 and posted an on-base percentage of .347.
After hitting .232 over 14 games headed into the final series against No. 23 Oregon State sophomore third baseman Lucas Erceg went 5-for-11 against the Beavers, with his team-leading 11th home run of the season. On the year, Erceg hit .316 with one triple, 10 doubles and 40 RBIs, slugging .528 with an on-base percentage of .369 and a team-best 112 total bases.
Congrats @Cal_Baseball on getting back to the postseason! Pretty sure our road to Omaha went thru the state of Texas in '11. Just saying...— Matt Flemer (@MattFlemer) May 25, 2015
Senior first baseman Chris Paul -- the Pac-12 Player of the Week for his 7-for-10, nine-RBI performance two weekends ago against playoff-bound USC – finished the regular season hitting .326 with a team-best 42 RBIs, 11 doubles, three triples and eight home runs, slugging .549.
Despite missing 19 games with a broken hamate bone, starting right fielder Devin Pearson paces the Bears with a .350 batting average, slugging a team-best .567 with an on-base percentage of .407 – second only to Paul’s .408 for the team lead.
Cal’s four regular starting pitchers – sophomore righty Daulton Jefferies, junior righty Ryan Mason, freshman lefty Matt Ladrech and freshman righty Jeff Bain -- have thrown 292.0 innings, allowing 94 earned runs in 49 starts for an ERA of 2.90.
The Bears’ 3.13 team ERA was good for fourth in the Pac-12, and their .275 team batting average was sixth. Cal’s 334 strikeouts were the second-fewest by a Pac-12 lineup. The Bears allowed 428 hits on the season – third-fewest in the league – and allowed 204 runs – fourth-fewest in the Pac-12. Cal’s 163 earned runs allowed were the third-fewest in the league, as were the 142 walks Bears pitchers issued.
Cal allowed the fewest extra-base hits in the conference, giving up a Pac-12-low 65 doubles, five triples (second to Washington State) and 15 home runs (second to Arizona’s 10). The Bears, despite a .969 fielding percentage (seventh in the conference) turned the most double plays in the Pac-12 (56).