CAL Baseball strikes out —

12 02 2011

It’s a sad sad day in Bay Area baseball. Cal announced they’ll be eliminating the baseball program at the university following the 2011 season. We had a couple of recent Serra players take their talents to Cal not too ago and once the story broke this morning, we got an email from one — in it, we got the letter sent to the players directly from the Director of Athletics. Anyway, Logan Scott called our office about five minutes after my editor left to cover his game and I ended up writing the story you see below.

The graphic below was an idea I thought of with the baseball program being put to death. Turned it over pretty quickly and we decided to use it — actually it was built before we spoke with Logan. Like I said, it’s a sad day in baseball.

By Julio Lara, Daily Journal Staff

Former Serra Padre Logan Scott received a text message from his head coach at 9:30 a.m. Friday morning — it said to be prepared for bad news.

And the news couldn’t have been worse as he and the rest of the Cal baseball team found out that, while the athletic department at his college decided to save two of the four sports slated for elimination in 2011, baseball was not one of them.

“After a comprehensive, sport-by-sport review of the philanthropic commitments, unfortunately, it was determined that the pledges for baseball and men’s gymnastics fell short of the criteria provided to potential donors: Sufficient funding to support team expenses for the next seven to 10 years and the presentation of a feasible plan for sustained financial independence,” the university wrote in a press release Friday morning.

“I’m trying to stay positive through this whole process,” Scott said. “It was something we had to be prepared for. I can’t say we were completely expecting it, but we were prepared so it wasn’t a complete shock.”

Scott was 1-0 in three appearances last season for the Golden Bears after a very successful career at Serra, highlighted by a 10-0 senior season.

Scott went to Cal and got the opportunity to play alongside former Daily Journal Player of the Year Tony Renda. Now, both Peninsula natives find themselves with the uncertainty of where they’ll play out the rest of their collegiate careers.

“Right now, we’re basically going through the same process we did as juniors and seniors in high school,” Scott said. “Everyone, as of right now, is going to have to transfer, (but) at this level it’s easier. Our coaches, they have connections throughout the United States and they’re calling as many coaches as they know.”

In a direct e-mail to Scott and his teammates, Cal’s Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour wrote, “On one hand, I am elated that the passionate efforts of our alumni and friends produced enough funding to support women’s lacrosse, women’s gymnastics, and men’s rugby for a solid number of years to come.  Because of these fundraising efforts, more than 100 student-athletes will continue to compete on a varsity level for our university. On the other hand, the fundraising efforts — although significant by any measure — do not provide sufficient resources to support financial sustainability for the foreseeable future for men’s gymnastics and baseball. Unfortunately, at this point in time, the university is not in a financial position to commit to additional expenses to reinstate these two sports without a reasonable certainty that resources will be available to cover those commitments. I met with your head coaches earlier today and have asked them to follow-up with you directly as soon as possible to discuss the background, rationale and specifics of the decision relative to your sports.”

“We did have a meeting before (the official announcement) and he (coach David Esquer) said he was upset,” Scott said. “But he told us not to feel defeated because we have something special on the field and to use this as motivation from weekend to weekend.

“We’re good enough to where this shouldn’t effect us, but that’s easier said that done,” Scott said.

Renda, Scott’s teammate at Serra and Cal, had one of the best seasons by a freshman in Golden Bears history. He batted .373 with three home runs and 37 RBI en route to earning Freshmen All-America honors as well as All-Pac-10 and was named to the 2010 Norman (Okla.) Regional All-Tournament team.

Renda told the Associated Press, “I never thought this day would happen, but you have to go forward.”

He, along with his Cal teammates, now face the task of finding a place to play after the 2011 season. According to Scott, the players have the option of staying and finishing their academic studies at Cal.

“A degree from Cal is something special,” Scott said, who’s majoring in American Studies with an emphasis on business. “We were a little distracted by all this, since there were rumors going around for days. For most of us, baseball is a way to escape. When you have a bad day, you could always use the baseball field as a way out.”

“I deeply regret the impact this decision has had on you personally and your family,” Barbour wrote in her e-mail. “Although this has been an extremely challenging time, I hope and believe that the entire Cal athletics family will pull together in support of all of you that have been impacted in such an extraordinary way. I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that you have the support you need during this difficult time.”

Scott said some of his teammates are already committed to other baseball programs but have no intention of leaving the team before playing out the new season. Cal opens the season next week ranked 17th by Baseball America.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Scott said. “Hopefully this is a stepping stone to bigger and better things. My family and friends have been really supportive through this whole process.”

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