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California coach David Esquer catches a ball during practice at TD Ameritrade Park, Friday, June 17, 2011, in Omaha, Neb. California plays Virginia in the NCAA College World Series on Sunday. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)

OMAHA, Neb. — Cal’s David Esquer humbly received the National Coach of the Year Award on Tuesday, three hours before the Bears’ 7-3 elimination of Texas A&M in the College World Series.

“The whole day’s been just amazing,” Esquer said. “You can’t be a good coach without good players.”

Esquer’s 12th season has been unlike any other experienced in college baseball history. Told in September this would be his program’s final season due to budget cuts, Esquer kept his team focused. Reinstatement arrived April 8, and two months later Cal clinched its first CWS berth since 1992.

“He definitely deserved coach of the year recognition, being the rock in that storm,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said.

Esquer’s contract is up, but athletic director Sandy Barbour confidently said: “We’ll do an extension. We both said we would talk about it until the end of the season, and we’re thrilled the season has kept going.”

Asked if that’s the case, Esquer replied: “I can only take her at her word.” 

Cal is 354-312-2 during Esquer’s tenure, including a 38-22 mark this year in Cal’s most victorious season since 1991.

The coach of the year award is presented by the National College Baseball Writers Association. Oregon State’s Pat Casey won Pac-10 Coach of the Year honors, as voted upon by the conference coaches.


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“This team has been fantastic,” Esquer said. “It’s been a long, strange, rewarding journey that will impact all our lives forever.”

He was en route to TD Ameritrade Park for the award news conference when Cal’s media relations staff informed him of the upcoming honor. The first people Esquer thanked were his coaching staff, his wife, Lynn, and legendary Stanford coaches Bill Alhouse and Mark Marquess. 

“I was destined to be a coach,” Esquer, a former Stanford player, said. “I wrote a book report on John Wooden — in grades one through six.”

  • Freshman left-hander Kyle Porter won his second elimination game in as many starts this postseason. He allowed three runs and seven hits, walked one and struck out four in six innings.

    "That was the key for us, him coming out there and giving us six innings of good baseball," Esquer said. "It's in a big spot, and many people may be surprised he came through that way, but I don't think anyone on the coaching staff is surprised he was capable of doing that."

    Added Porter: "As far as the elimination games, I don't treat it any differently than any other game. I want to go out there and win just like everyone else."

  • Dixon Alexander (4-3, 3.90 ERA) is expected to be Cal's starting pitcher Thursday. The junior right-hander from Piedmont had a no-decision in his last start, June 5 against Rice.

  • Cal is 5-0 in NCAA tournament elimination games. Tuesday's seven runs were the Bears' most in a CWS game since 1980, when they endured an 11-10 loss to Arizona that dispatched the third-place Bears.

  • Texas A&M starter Michael Wacha allowed all seven runs in 6 2/3 innings. But all three of Cal's fifth-inning runs were unearned, a result of two errors. Wacha was a third-team All-America by Baseball America, and Esquer hailed him after the game as a potential top draft pick in 2012.

  • Cal improved to 5-2 wearing old-fashioned stirrups over its socks. The Bears also wore yellow jerseys, which they donned in six straight wins before losing in those shirts Sunday to Virginia.

    Follow Cam Inman at Twitter.com/CamInman.