Athletics

It's official -- Cal baseball will return for 2011-12

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It's official -- Cal baseball will return for 2011-12

April 8, 2011

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BERKLEY (AP) -- California is keeping baseball after all.

Nearly two months after the university reinstated three other teams that were slated for elimination, the school said Friday that baseball would survive after a massive fundraising effort by alumni, former players, parents of current players and other team supporters.

Cal said financial commitments totaling 9 million were presented to Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on Thursday by former Golden Bears pitcher and fundraising leader Stu Gordon. The total was short of the initial 10 million goal so additional money is still needed in this effort but the Cal administration was confident enough to announce the program would be saved.

"It was a very trying time and an ordeal for us but what came out of it was a resolve led by our alumni," Bears coach Dave Esquer said. "I'm just so proud of that group that would not take no for an answer. It finally came through with a resolution we've all been waiting for."

Esquer received the news early Friday from athletic director Sandy Barbour, who lauded the efforts of former Cal players and alumni for helping to save the program.

"This is a good day for the Cal Athletics family," Barbour said. "By confronting adversity through cooperation, we are now in a much better position going forward. We have all learned important lessons that will serve us well in the future."

The Bears are in Tucson, Ariz., to begin a three-game series against the Wildcats. Esquer delivered the news to his players after calling them together for what was supposed to be a scouting report meeting. A loud cheer went up in the room after the coach spoke.

"He dropped the news on us and it was just a big chip off our shoulders," junior catcher Chadd Krist said. "We no longer have to really worry about our future. Our future is with Cal baseball and with the University of California."

In February, Birgeneau partially reversed a decision announced last September when he said that enough money had been raised to keep the men's rugby, women's lacrosse and women's gymnastics teams. The two women's teams had been slated for elimination, while men's rugby was going to be reclassified as a "varsity club sport."

Campus officials said they received between 12 million and 13 million in pledges to retain the programs with 8 million available to cover the costs of the three sports for seven to 10 years.

Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary said at the time that the pledges specifically for baseball and men's gymnastics were insufficient. In February, Cal said the baseball program had raised between 1.5 million and 2.5 million, which would have covered its costs for about two years but was still well short of that 10 million goal for long-term sustainability.

"I have been so impressed with the combined efforts of the alumni, parents, volunteers, friends and coaches who have not only expanded the Cal baseball family, but who have also strengthened it," Gordon said. "We are thankful that the chancellor has been supportive of our efforts to save Cal baseball through our fundraising efforts, and that the Cal athletic department has been working with us to support those efforts. I am confident that we will meet our fundraising goal of 10 million very shortly and am ecstatic that we can continue the storied Cal baseball tradition in the future."

The university also said that baseball supporters will work closely with the school to develop a strategic plan to raise significant additional annual resources beginning with the 2011-12 season through improved game-day revenue and annual gift and special event revenue.

The plan to cut the sports was part of a broader campaign to reduce UC Berkeley's annual support for intercollegiate athletics from more than 12 million to about 5 million in 2014 as a result of the state of California's reduced support of higher education.

Men's gymnastics is still short of its fundraising goal to be reinstated, having gathered just under half of the 4 million required to operate the team for the next seven to 10 years, but Barbour said she hopes the momentum from baseball will help the cause and lead to a successful outcome.

A's find two bright spots in tough shutout loss to Astros

A's find two bright spots in tough shutout loss to Astros

HOUSTON — Some losses go down tougher than others, and that’s true for Bob Melvin whether it’s April or whether it’s August and his team is playing out the string.

The body language and demeanor said it all for the A’s manager Saturday after a 3-0 loss to the Astros, in which Oakland didn’t advance a single runner past second base.

Houston right-hander Collin McHugh brought a 4.88 ERA into the game over five starts since returning from a shoulder injury. He wound up celebrating his first victory of 2017 after six stellar innings.

“He threw the ball good, (but) I expected us to score some runs tonight,” Melvin said.

The A’s were done in by five ground-ball double plays, including a game-ending 5-4-3 job from Ryon Healy, which was reversed on replay review after Healy initially was called safe.

“Those things are killers,” catcher Bruce Maxwell said. “It just didn’t roll our way today.”

So the A’s (53-70) were left to pick through the scraps of this one to find some silver linings, and there were a couple.

Kendall Graveman held Houston to two runs over six innings, and the damage off him came on a two-run single from Marwin Gonzalez that glanced off the glove of second baseman Jed Lowrie. It was the second strong outing in a row for Graveman, who’s now got four starts under his belt since returning from his second stint on the disabled list this season for shoulder issues.

Most encouraging from his standpoint was he didn’t really have his best stuff, yet still managed to limit an opponent that leads the majors in every significant offensive category, including runs, batting average and homers.

“I think it’s the first one where I’ve been back when I had to kind of pitch and grind through,” said Graveman (3-4). “I didn’t have my best stuff. It’s just one of those where you’ve got to get out there and compete.”

The highlight of the game for the A’s came when center fielder Boog Powell unleashed a strike to home plate that nailed Alex Bregman trying to score from second on Jose Altuve’s single in the fifth.

Maxwell barely had to move his mitt to apply the tag, and count the A’s catcher as the most surprised person in the ballpark that Powell even gave him a chance on the play.

“It caught me off guard,” Maxwell admitted. “I haven’t played with Powell in a long time. I didn’t expect there to be that big of a play at home. He was fairly deep in the outfield as well.”

Powell, a 24-year-old rookie who was acquired from Seattle for Yonder Alonso, said he’s worked on his throwing in the minors in recent seasons.

“I didn’t (have a good arm) back in the day,” Powell said. “I’m definitely improving my arm strength. I pride myself on getting the ball out as quick as I can.”

It’s the kind of play that sticks in the memory bank as Powell tries to make his mark in the wide open battle to be the A’s center fielder in 2018. His throw to ring up Bregman was at least one moment from Saturday night that gave Melvin reason to smile.

“He can play the outfield, no doubt about it,” Melvin said. “It was a big play at the time, and it should give you a little momentum to go back out there and do a little better offensively.”

Despite injury concerns, Foster, Bowman play 20 snaps in exhibition vs Broncos

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AP

Despite injury concerns, Foster, Bowman play 20 snaps in exhibition vs Broncos

SANTA CLARA -- Rookie linebacker Reuben Foster, who was limited in Thursday’s practice due to a shoulder sprain, started the 49ers’ exhibition game Saturday night against the Denver Broncos at Levi's Stadium.

Foster played 20 snaps and recorded one tackle before the 49ers’ first-team defense was removed in the second quarter.

There were some concerns when Foster was included on the 49ers’ pre-practice injury report Thursday with an injury to his surgically repaired shoulder. But the 49ers said the injury was not related to the torn rotator cuff he sustained for Alabama in the national semifinal game against Washington.

NaVorro Bowman, who was removed from practice Thursday with a similar shoulder condition, also started and played every snap alongside Foster. Bowman was credited with two tackles.

With Foster and Bowman on the field, the Broncos totaled just 63 yards of total offense.