Back from the brink, Cal off to Omaha

June, 13, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- After the final out, the Cal Bears threw their gloves, piled on top of one another and then saluted their fans. No, the program isn't dead. The team is headed to Omaha.

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Kyle Terada/US PresswireCal became the sixth team to reach the College World Series after beating Dallas Baptist in the Santa Clara Super Regional.

Cal advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 1992, sweeping Dallas Baptist with a 6-2 victory in Game 2 of the Santa Clara Super Regional on Sunday based on timely hitting, solid pitching and sticking together.

"I'm so proud of our guys, so proud of our staff," said Cal coach David Esquer, who before the season saw his program face discontinuation. "It's so gratifying."

The Bears have since been revived, and they've gotten contributions from a roster that the players say has become more of a brotherhood. Erik Johnson pitched six innings for the win, and Chadd Krist homered and drove in three runs as the Bears never trailed in the series.

Derek Campbell and Tony Renda had three hits apiece, with the freshman Campbell making his presence felt starting this weekend at second base while Rena, the Pac-10 Player of the Year, nursed a quad injury.

Dallas Baptist scored its first run of the series in the second inning on Kenny Hatcher's run-scoring double to cut the lead to 2-1, but Campbell responded by scoring from first base after Austin Booker's double, forcing a throwing error.

Campbell doubled home a run in the fourth and then came around to score when Renda greeted reliever Michael Smith with a base hit to extend the lead to 5-2.

Patriots right-hander Jared Stafford lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up four earned runs. The Cal offense put on so much pressure that closer Chris Haney was in the game by the sixth to keep the game close. But the Dallas Baptist bats that carried the team all season never really got going, and they managed only four hits in the game.

"They deserve all the credit," Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner said of the Bears. "I thought they played well in both games in all phases of the game. They flat beat us."

Johnson struck out four, and it helped he was given a 2-0 lead in the first after Krist hammered a Stafford breaking ball over the left-field wall.

"I kind of had my juices flowing in the first inning," said Johnson, who walked four batters and ultimately calmed himself down by thinking good thoughts.

"Let's go to Omaha."



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