Cal rallying in face of extinction

Justin Jones is part of a three-headed pitching monster that could give Cal's opponents fits. Michael Tureski/Icon SMI

David Esquer gets pretty emotional when he talks about this year's Cal-Berkeley baseball team. Hard to blame him. Listen to the coach assess his top three pitchers -- Erik Johnson, Justin Jones and Dixon Anderson -- by saying, "I really think all three could have an opportunity to pitch in the big leagues," and you sense his excitement. And when he describes his second baseman Tony Renda as a kid who "is compared to Dustin Pedroia a lot because he's small in stature and he has the most disrespectful swing of any player I've ever coached," you can also feel the coach's genuine affection for this team.

And that's before even getting into the part about how this year's Cal Bears team could be the last baseball team to ever represent the school on the NCAA Division I level.

In late September, Cal announced it was dropping five varsity sports. Men's rugby, men's and women's gymnastics, women's lacrosse -- and baseball.