The California baseball team has announced its full schedule for 2017, featuring three College World Series teams, and a distinct West Coast flavor, even outside of Pac-12 play.
The Bears -- who tied their most MLB Draft picks under head coach David Esquer with seven, led by sandwich-round pick Daulton Jefferies and second-round pick Brett Cumberland -- will play four conference champions and 10 NCAA Regional teams, with 28 home games and 17 televised games.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1715215-cal-baseball-opens... "I think our preseason schedule represents schools and teams that have been and look to be in regionals every year," Esquer said in a statement. "From Cal Poly to Pepperdine, which in the West Coast Conference is used to going to regionals to Texas Tech, which was a World Series team last year and Gonzaga, who was a regional team a year ago. And we play TCU, who is an elite team, late in the season. We set that schedule to try to prepare us for the best competition on the West Coast. It's a little closer to home than we have been in past years with our furthest trip being out to Texas Tech but I think for this young team, it's going to be a real challenge to compete with the quality of teams we have on our schedule, let alone get ready for Pac-12 competition."
Cal opens against Cal Poly -- the alma mater of pitching coach Thomas Eager -- which is picked to finish near the top of the Big West, in a three-game set Feb. 17-19 at Evans Diamond. The Bears then travel to Lubbock, Tex., for a four-game set Feb. 24-26 against a Texas Tech team that won 47 games in 2016, ending the year in Omaha with a No. 5 ranking. The middle two games of that series will be a Saturday doubleheader.
The Bears return home for a four-game series against Gonzaga from March 3-5 (with a doubleheader on March 4), an NCAA Regional team in 2016, before heading down to Pepperdine, where Esquer served as an assistant from 1997-99. Cal will play three games under the sunshine at un-lit Eddy D. Field Stadium, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, facing a team that returns seven seniors, before coming home for a Tuesday, March 14, 7:05 p.m., game against Minnesota, which finished as the Big 10 regular season champion.
Cal begins the Pac-12 schedule with a three-game series against Oregon on March 17, and then hit the road again for three games at UCLA, all on the Pac-12 Networks. A Monday home tilt against traditional West Coast power Long Beach State at 7 p.m., on March 27, starts a nine-game stretch where the Bears stay in the greater Bay Area, with a home series agains Washington State from March 31-April 1; a Tuesday, April 4 game at Stanford on the Pac-12 Networks, and a three-game televised home series against Arizona State. Cal finishes that stretch with a quick Tuesday, April 11 trip out to Moraga to face St. Mary's at 3 p.m.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1724983-fall-ball-film-jar... The Bears then play 12 of their next 16 on the road, including three 10:30 a.m., games from April 13-15 against Utah in Salt Lake City, before returning home for another Tuesday game against the Cardinal at Sunken Diamond, on Tues., April 18 at 5:30 p.m., on the Pac-12 Networks.
Cal heads back on the road for a three-game televised series against Oregon State May 5-7, before returning to Evans Diamond for a six-game homestand, with a televised Big Series against Stanford from May 13-15, and TCU from May 18-20. The Horned Frogs are fresh off a trip to the College World Series, with 49 wins in 2016.
The Bears finish the season with a May 26-28 set against College World Series runner-up Arizona in Tucson.
"It's going to be a typical bloody schedule where everyone is capable of beating everybody," Esquer said of the Pac-12. "Your ability to win at home and to make sure you hold serve at home but then also win on the road is the key to the league every year."
Losing Cumberland and Jefferies was just the tip of the iceberg for the Bears, who also lost key reliever Alex Schick, starting third baseman Mitchell "El Gaucho" Kranson, defensive wizard and starting second baseman Robbie Tenerowicz, four-year rubber-armed starter Ryan Mason and starting center fielder Aaron Knapp to the Draft. Cal returns one starting position player in Preston GrandPre, at shortstop, and one member of the stating rotation, in soft-tossing control specialist Matt Ladrech.
The Bears concluded fall ball still in flux at first, following the graduation of Nick Halamandaris, but have found their new second baseman in quick-handed Ripken Reyes. It looks like one of 19 first-year players on the roster -- Korey Lee -- is a leading candidate to replace Cumberland -- the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2016 -- behind the plate. Oufielder Jonah Davis will anchor the middle of the lineup, along with projected third base starter Denis Karas. JuCo transfer Austen Swift has made some noise in an outfield that lost Devin Pearson and Brian Celsi. Max Flower saw action at first base, in the outfield and even on the mound during fall, and is a rangy, powerful athlete with a lot of upside. Conner Bock is an athletic hitter who doesn't really have a position yet, but could slot in at left or at first, but his bat certainly plays. Two-way player Tanner Dodson was one of the most consistent hitters in intrasquad games observed by BearTerritory, and figures to be a key part of the pitching rotation when not in the outfield.
Cal adds a lot of depth on the pitching side, with projected first-round pick Jared Horn drawing hordes of scouts during the fall, and crafty lefty Arman Sabouri. Freshman righty Rogelio Reyes was also impressive in his fall outings.