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Golden Nuggets: Cal Baseball Continues to Do the Impossible

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All season the Bears have refused to go down without a fight--they defied program cuts, and last night they would not let their season come to an end.  

On Sept. 28, California Athletic Director Sandy Barbour and Chancellor Robert Birgeneau announced a "painful decision." The University of California, one of the charter members of what will shortly become the Pac-12 Conference, was eliminating baseball.

118 years, the Stanford Axe, two Major League MVPs, two College World Series titles. Gone. Done. Erased.

That day, the Bears did all that they could, all that they knew. They took the field.

"The team, I give them a lot of credit. We gave them the option of whether they could stay home and give themselves some time to digest it, or come out and work, and do what we do, do what we love doing, which is playing baseball and going to school here at Cal. To a man, they said, 'Let's practice,'" Esquer said that day. "They're really invested in each other, and they understand that we have a chance to have a hell of a ballclub here. We've got some really talented ballplayers, so it feels good, because I think we really worked hard to put this team together, and we really want to coach this team. We don't want to see anybody leave and jump the ship at this point."
So, here we are, eight months, 35 wins a few thousand words later. In case you're counting, three of the Bears' four wins in this Regional have been -- you guessed it -- of the come-from-behind variety. In case you're counting, in one weekend, Esquer went from 1-6 in playoff appearances to 5-7. In case you're counting, this will be the first time ever that the Bears are headed to a Super Regional since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams.

That, folks, adds up to a whole lot of history. And maybe, just maybe, this game, this beautiful, infuriating, complex, endlessly permutable, goosepimpling, leaping and screaming, heart-rendingly captivating game, can give these Bears at least two more chances to pull on those rally capes, and, just like Stu Gordon, Sam Petke, Paul and Ann Flemer, Mike Knapp, Joni Krist, John Hughes, Bob Milano, Jeff Kent, Scott Ball, Tony Arnerich, Brad Sanfilippo, Dan Hubbs and the countless others who have given their time, their hearts, their money, their will, their strength and their spirit, they will not lay down bravely to die, but fight valiantly to live, all the way to Omaha.

After the jump there's more from last night's classic win over Baylor, Athlon and Sporting News preview the Pac-12 football season, and Alexis Gray-Lawson becomes the second Bear to earn a spot on a WNBA opening-day roster.