Baseball Starts 2012 At Cal Friday, Home Opener Saturday
Stockton, Calif. – The Pacific baseball team opens its 2012 campaign on Friday as the Tigers take on the Cal Golden Bears in the first of a three-game, split-site series. Pacific will travel to Berkeley for a 1:30 first pitch season-opener at Evans Diamond. The Tigers' home opener is Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Klein Family Field for game two of the series. On Sunday, the action returns to Berkeley with a 1:00 p.m. first pitch.
"I think we're ready and we're excited," head coach Ed Sprague said. "Cal had a great year last year. They're returning their two top pitchers and eight position players. I think it will be a good series."
Cal is coming off a 38-23 season and College World Series appearance, going 1-2 with both losses to No. 1 Virginia. The Tigers are opening the season against California for the seventh time since 1967, with each team winning three. The Tigers won the last opening day meeting between the two teams, 5-4, in 2005, Sprague's second season at the helm. Pacific is 9-5 since 1998 on opening day, including 4-4 under coach Sprague.
"We'll have a few guys making their debuts," said Sprague, who enters his ninth season at the helm of the Tigers. "So I'd expect there'd be a little bit of nerves from those guys, but overall, we're ready to go."
Drawing the start on Opening Day is junior Travis Lumby. The 6-1 left-hand pitcher will make his first Division I start after joining the Tigers from Chandler Gilbert Community College. Last season, Lumby struck out 17 batters in 20.1 innings and posted a 1-1 record with a 5.31 ERA.
He will be opposed by Cal left-hander Justin Jones. The junior went 9-6 last season with a 2.93 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 119.2 innings pitched.
For the home opener, Pacific will turn to 6-5 freshman right-hander Mike Hager, out of Stockton's St. Mary's High School. Last season, he posted an 8-4 record with a 1.70 ERA for Pete Pijl's Rams. The Golden Bears will counter with Matt Flemer. The senior right- hander was 4-2 last season with a 1.83 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 39.1 innings.
On Sunday, the Tigers will send junior John Haberman to the hill for the series finale. The 6-1 junior tossed 12 innings last season, with 10 strikeouts, an 0-1 record and a 6.00 ERA. Cal's starter for Sunday is TBA.
The senior-laden Tigers return 20 letter-winners from last season's squad, including seven of last year's starters on offense. The Tigers have four returning seniors that started last year, outfielders Brett Christopher, Daniel Johnston and Allen Riley, and infielder/outfield Josh Simms. The Tigers also return the reigning Big West batting champion in junior Dustin Torchio, redshirt junior Tyger Pederson and sophomore catchers Jason Taasaas and Peter Miller.
Senior infielder Garrett Borba, sophomore first basemen/left-hand pitchers Erik Lockwood, and sophomore infielder/catcher Riley Drongesen, sophomore infielder Curtis Gomez and sophomore outfielder Brian Essig also return from last season's squad.
In addition to Haberman, the Tigers return six pitchers from last season's roster: senior right-hander Thomas Berolzheimer returns after the redshirt senior missed last season following elbow surgery. Fellow seniors Chris Larsen, John Prato Matthews and Jared Wagner return as right-handed pitchers, along with sophomores Paul Moeller and Kyle Crawford throwing from the left side.
Another debut for Pacific will be Saturday's opening of the concession stands and Duraflame Hot Spot as Klein Family Field continues to add new features for Pacific fans.
"Hopefully we get good weather, like we have been getting, for opening day. I think our fans we have a much nicer place to watch the game this year," Sprague added.