Bears a fan favorite heading to Omaha for first time since 1992

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The Cal baseball team has accomplished many things this season, but has one goal left unfinished: winning the school’s first College World Series title since 1957.

“There were moments in fall ball that I thought this team could be special,” Cal second baseman Tony Renda said. “When we didn’t even play a real game yet, it was kind of like, we’ve got something here.”

The Golden Bears (37-21) will be making their first trip to Omaha since 1992 where they take on No. 1 Virginia (51-9) today, but may have more than momentum on their side.

“I’ve talked to a couple of reporters out of Omaha and they’re already predicting the same thing — that we may be the fans’ pick because of what we’ve gone through this year,” Cal coach David Esquer said. “We’ll take that because that’s a little enthusiasm at the ballpark for you.”

Cal baseball was reinstated in early April after receiving an announcement the program was to be axed in a cost-cutting effort by the university in February.

“We played before while we were cut with that chip on our shoulder,” pitcher Logan Scott said. “I feel like everybody kind of relaxed after we found out [we were reinstated] and, incidentally, we went on a slide. We had team meetings before the regionals started and we said we need to get back to playing care-free, careless.”

The Golden Bears did just that and have won six in a row since losing their opening game of the Houston Regional, including beating Dallas Baptist in two games in its best-of-three super regional series last weekend. Cal knows there won’t be any easy games from here on out.

“Once you get to this point in the season, everybody’s a good team,” Renda said. “You got to battle every single day and as long as we play our game, stay relaxed and focused I think we’ll be good.”

There hasn’t been one hero for Cal, but a collection of moments from the Golden Bears.

“Everybody that travels with us means everything to us and you got to be ready to go in the game at any time because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Renda said.

But Cal is going to be cautious will a couple of players.

The Pac-10 Player of the Year, Renda, was used as a designated hitter in the second game against Dallas Baptist due to a minor quadriceps injury, and will only be at second base if he is fully healthy, Esquer said.

Left-handed pitcher Justin Jones still has discomfort in his left bicep and may be unavailable in Omaha. Esquer said unless Jones is 100 percent, he will not throw.

College World Series

Cal vs. Virginia

WHEN: Today, 11 a.m.

WHERE: TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, Omaha, Neb.

TV: ESPN

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