Cal baseball just finished off one of the best and most memorable seasons in school history. But it all had to start somewhere. For the Bears, it started poorly, as the program was cut and players transferred out. But when the team touched the field, all was normal, at least for that time.
The decision to cut baseball nearly got rid of the program that started the tradition of the Stanford Axe and has been around for over 100 years. It was a slap in the face to everyone involved with the program, to all the kids who dreamed of playing baseball at Cal, and to all the fans who did support the program. With the program now reinstated, we can now say that it did irrevocable harm to the program and potentially crippled the team’s ability to compete for years to come. In the end, it left many young men with nowhere to go and their dreams taken away from them.
Despite all the adversity, the team still managed to put together an impressive run through non-conference play. They opened in style, with the offense and pitching working together for a 6-1 start. That’s not to say there weren’t problems; after that start, the team dropped three games in a row. In all, the team won the Cal Baseball Classic and Caravelle Resort’s Tournament and opened 13-5 to start the year. The beginning was a huge success, as the team started better than even the most optimistic fans could hope.
If you watched this team in the beginning, you could see the makings of a College World Series run. The pitching was good, the hitting was coming together, and the team was either blowing you out or playing a close game. Even when they trailed, they could never be counted out, just like in a comeback from 6-1 down to beat Rice. That would come in handy for later.
The beginning of the year set the foundation for making an incredible run that captured the attention of a nation. The team that dominated in the early going would disappear briefly during Pac-10 play, and reappear during the NCAA Tournament. We’ll cover the Pac-10 portion of play in our next edition. Go Bears!