BERKELEY -- In front of well over 400 parents, fans and alumni, the 2012 Cal baseball team took the field for its annual alumni game. Last season, in the midst of the cancellation of the program, the festivities were rained out, much to the chagrin of several players who made their big league mark this season in Josh Satin and Allen Craig.
This year was a different story, as the alumni came out in force, featuring several current and former pro hands.
Despite starting current Florida Marlins catcher John Baker behind the plate and St. Louis Cardinals' Double-A hit machine Charlie Cutler in left, though, the young alumni fell to the current squad, 14-1.
The current Bears out-hit their elders 20-9, led by two-hit days from senior catcher Chadd Krist (2-for-2, double), junior second baseman Tony Renda (2-for-4, RBI), sophomore Michael Theofanopoulos (2-for-3), sophomore catcher Andrew Knapp (2-for-4, BB, RBI) freshman catcher/infielder Mike Reuvekamp (2-for-3), sophomore catcher Alex Egber (2-for-3) and senior outfielder Chad Bunting (2-for-2, HR, 3 RBI).
Bunting and sophomore shortstop Derek Campbell provided the big blows on the day, with Bunting slugging a no-doubt-about-it two-run home run in the top of the eighth and Campbell playing a very quick-handed and easy-fielding shortstop while showing off his speed, going 1-for-2 with a bases-loaded triple in the top of the third.
Saturday was also Cal fans' first chance to get a look at the incoming class of freshman, including Chris Paul, Brenden Farney, Brian Celsi and pitcher Robb Woodcock. Woodcock threw one inning, allowing one walk while getting Save Cal Baseball Foundation chairman Sam Petke to ground into a game-ending double play.
Celsi went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk, while Paul went 0-for-2, but pitched a scoreless eighth on the hill. In the field, Paul was a natural both in the outfield and at short. He wasn't able to show off his strong arm on defense, but he was smooth with the leather.
The solidly-built Farney had a rough day at the dish, going 0-for-4, but was very sure-handed in the field with good range, backing up starting second baseman Renda, the reigning conference Player of the Year.
The ever-competitive Renda -- who showed no rust after letting his quad heal this offseason, and has been looking very strong in the weight room -- was in midseason form, lining two singles, and was the only man on the team to show visual disgust when grounding out against a team of recent alumni.
Leadoff man Vince Bruno started the game in left, and got on base in each of his four at-bats, working three walks and coming up with an RBI single. Late in the contest, Bruno took over at third base, as starting hot-cornerman Mitch Delfino took the afternoon off, and acquitted himself quite well, charging a check-swing dribbler up the line off the bat of Dan Ahern and firing over to first for the out.
Last season's All-Pac-10 closer Matt Flemer started the game, and pitched two innings, striking out former teammate Dwight Tanaka to lead off the game. Flemer -- moving to starter this season with his low-90s fastball and natural cutter -- recorded three strikeouts, and three of the four hits he allowed were to current pros Baker (1-for-1 with a single) and Cutler (1-for-1 with a walk), as well as former 33rd-round Major League Draft pick Tommy Callen.
The real sentimental moment of the day came when Mike Knapp -- a former Cal catcher -- stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the seventh with his son -- sophomore catcher Andrew -- behind the plate, catching Paul.
"I was just trash talking and busting him inside," the younger Knapp said afterwards.
Mike Knapp struck out on four pitches in that at-bat, after catching most of the Papa Bear alumni game earlier in the day. The elder Knapp -- a 1986 grad -- was the youngest player on the field in the morning contest, and went 2-for-3 with two ringing singles into the left-center field gap and back up the middle before taking the field opposite his son.
One of last season's key performers -- righty Kevin Miller -- made a brief appearance for the alumni, as he works on finishing his degree at Cal, going one inning and allowing a walk and a run in the top of the fourth.
Senior righty Joey Donofrio showed good velocity in allowing one hit over two innings, and was helped out by Bruno's charging play at third in the bottom of the sixth and a veteran snag by Farney on a scorching liner from 2009 36th-round Major League Draft pick Dylan Tonneson.
Other recent alums coming back to Evans Diamond included Stephen Carlson, Connor Buestad, Ben Leipman, Travis Talbot (the alumni starting pitcher), Joe Todoroff, James Holder, David Nicholson, Eric Dworkis, Adam Gold, Ryan Hanlon, Michael Bugary, Michael Brady and Mike Padgett. Greek national team member Gus Panagotacos took the field for the young alumni, as did 1998 All-Pac-10 catcher Jason Hill. Even longtime pitching coach -- now filling the same position at USC -- Dan Hubbs was in attendance, moving between both dugouts.
Head coach David Esquer had to leave the postgame barbecue early to attend former first baseman Mike Van Winden's wedding.
Also on hand was former San Francisco Giant Darren Lewis, as well as 2011 draft picks Erik Johnson, Marcus Semien and Austin Booker.
The so-called First Family of Cal Baseball -- Sam Petke and twin brother Adam Petke, older brother Jonathan Petke and father Jon Petke -- were in the house, as well as former pitching coach and current Marlins scout John Hughes -- who was 3-for-3 with two RBI in the Papa Bear game while tossing one inning, allowing one hit and striking out two -- and event organizer Jesse Ingram, the program's single-season saves leader (10 in 2004). Randy Hooper, Gwyn-Mohr Tully and Stu Gordon were also on hand, with the first two playing the Papa Bear game and Gordon throwing out the ceremonial first pitch before the main event.
Co-conference batting champions Steve "Banjo" Derian and Neil Cummings -- who hit .383 for the crown in 1974 -- took some hacks in the morning game, as did Bobby Tulk -- a captain of the 1974 team -- and Glenn Newton -- a starting pitcher on the 1980 College World Series squad.