Cal Sports Quarterly
California baseball fans could not help but feel a little giddy the first time Brennan Boesch stepped up to the plate as a Golden Bear. The 6-6, 210-pound lefbhanded center fielder from Los Angeles quickly and emphatically made a positive mark on David Esquefs program, hitting a towering two-run homer in his fist collegiate at-bat at Evans Diamond.
Not a bad way to endear yourself to the Bear faithful. Better yet Boesch hit azzother two-run homeriater in the game as Cal dominated Brighérn Young, 11-1, in the 2004 season opener.
Welcome to Cal baseball, Mr. Boesch. if only the rest of the 2004 season went as well for Boesch and the Bears as that first game against BYU. Even though Cal swept the Cougars, The Bears were not able to establish consistency and finished 25-31 overall and 9-15 in the Pac-10. The young slugger showed flashes of briliance, batting .284 overall and .321 against Pac- 1o competition with five doubles, four home runs and 15 RBI He ended up starting only 18 games with a prolonged slump in the middle of the season.
But that was then. and this is now.
As a sophomore in 2005. Boesch was a catalyst in Cal baseball’s impressive resurgencea season that ended bitterly as Cal was left out of the NCAA Toumament field despitefinishing with a 34-B overall record and a 13-11 mark in the Pac-1O, becoming the first conference school not to advance to the postseason with a winning league record.
Still, Boesch established himself as one of the nation’s top young talents, earning first team All-Pac-1O honors and etching his name on the watch Eist for both The Golden Spikes ancl Broolc Wallace Awards given to the count?)/s top collegiate baseball player. His success directly correlates with the success of this year’s Bears, whose combination of experience and youth Had cal Knocking on a NCAA Regional door for the firstt time since 2001.
“From last year to this year, there was a huge jump in positive team chemistry, and that was a big part of our improvement,” said “Boesch. “Everyone was pulling on the same rope, but we still know it all comes down to performing on the field.”
Performing on the field is what made the Vears a viable postseason contender after being predicated to finish seventh in the Pac-10 preseasoc poll. Boesch did his share to lead the Cal squad, putting together a season that rivaled some of the best in school history. He led the team with a .355 RBI. Boesch was also in the Top 10 in the conference in hits(77) and total bases(123).
“When you name the top four or five hitters in the Pac-10, you have to list Brennan Boesch,”said USC pitching coach David lawn, who has seen his share of great hittere as an assistant at both Cal and USC. “And if you list him in that category, that also means he is one of the top hitteres in the country. He is a player you can;t let beat you, and in order to win you have to shut him down.
Boesch’s improvement from his freshman to sophomore year seemd to mirror the difference between this year’s Cal squad and last year’s. He headed a contingent of freshman and sophmores who paced the BEar’s offence, while a veteran pitching staff held opponents at bay. At times an up-and-down team, Cal was 4-0 in extra inning games, swept No. 12 Long Beach State in Long Beach, won three-of-six from stanford and captured nine straight games in February.
“We proved we can resilient, but we know we have to keep on battling” Boesch said just befor the final of the year at No 7 Arizona in which Cal took two of three games.
As a part of Cal’s 2004 freshman class that was ranked fifth best in the nation by Baseball America, Boesch signed out of Harward Westlake High School, along with the Bear’s slugging second baseman John Satin, who was second on the team with .348 average. After being All CIF Southern Section and first team All -Los Angeles Times as a senior, Boesch was courted by several of top baseball programs in the nation, before deciding to become Golden Bear.
“Basically, there were two things that brought me to Cal,” said Boesch, “One, was a chance to go to the college world series, and two, a chance to improve as a player. I liked the philosophy of the coaching staff and compared to the other schools, I lfelt Cal gave me the best chance to accomplish both of these goals. Really, the No. 1. reason I came to Cal was because of coach Esquer. I had talked to a lot of coaches, but David Esquer was the person I felt the most comfortable with.
“The fact that Cal is a great school academically was a positive factor, as well.” continued Boesch, who has not declared a major, but is interested in social welfare. “The other schools were enticig, but my dad Philip, who is a lawyer and my mom, Vivian, rally valued the education Cal could offer, and they wanted me to have something to fall back on after baseball. My parents and my sister, Cassidy, have been unbelievably supportive, as well as my uncle, Robert Sevier, who is confined to a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis but is the biggest Cal baseball fan and a source if inspiration for me.”
Boesch Almost seemed destined to hit home runs in a Bear uniform. The first time former Cal assistant coach Ron Witmeyerscouted the talented left- hander, he hit three home runs for Harward- Westlake, But what most people don’t realize, Boesch was as much a pitcher as a hitter until his senior year of high school.
“All of a sudden, he became an All- American-type hitter.” said Satin, “It whas been awesome watching him from the very beginning because he is a self madeplayer. He is constantly stydying other hitters and is always looking for ways to better himself.”
“Brennan was definately a guy on the radar when we were recruiting him, “Esquer said. “Coach Witmeyer saw him one time and said, ‘This is a guy we have to have.’ It just so happened that first time Ron saw him, he hit three home runs in a ballgame. Then, in hs first game at Cal, he hits two home runs. Brennan made a pretty quick impression that he was going to be an impact player for us.
“This season, he really prepared himself to play each and every day. He knew he needed to shorten his swing, and he did. He has also made himself a better defensive player and is now putting himself in position to be among the very best players to ever come out of Cal. Brennan is as driven as any player I have ever had. He doesn’t accept failure and fears nobody.”
Obviously one with a penchant for dramatic opening acts. Boeach continues to prove he can perform for the long run.