Cal baseball back on track after brief elimination

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm •  Published: February 20, 2014

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — While in the midst of taking classes at California and simultaneously pondering his collegiate baseball future after his sport got cut, pitcher Kyle Porter considered leaving Berkeley for Oregon in early 2011 to play for the Ducks that season.

He even made a visit to rival Stanford and dined with Cardinal coach Mark Marquess. Porter checked out UC Irvine and Long Beach State, too.

It was supposed to be the final season of Cal's storied program in spring 2011. Some players did bolt.

"I had to go shopping a little bit," Porter said. "Then we were back and it was all good. It was stressful because they dragged it on for so long. I didn't even know how I felt. I was almost mad at the administration. I was like, 'If you're going to cut it, you might as well leave it.' But they did bring it back and it was a great thing. My commitment to Cal, I was going to honor."

It's been nearly three years since Cal baseball — established in 1892 — was saved when supporters came through with $9 million from tireless fundraising to keep alive a program set for elimination by the administration in a cost-cutting move.

Cal 15th-year coach David Esquer finally feels as if the operation is running smoothly again after a tumultuous couple of years for the Golden Bears with recruiting and other challenges to catch back up with the competition in the dominant Pac-12 Conference.

Porter is so happy he stayed put. Not only did Cal reach the College World Series in 2011 in one of college baseball's feel-good stories, he earned his team's first win there since 1980 to highlight a 6-0 year in which he had a 1.89 ERA, two saves and 57 strikeouts to just 15 walks in 57 innings.

So, Porter told Oregon coach George Horton he needed to stick it out. As the senior left-hander's season gets underway things feel normal again.

"I'm glad I didn't make that decision," Porter said. "I don't think it would have been a bad decision but I told Coach Horton I made a commitment to Cal and I was going to honor that. With the way my year ended up, it ended up working out for the best. It was a little bit of a scapegoat for some guys. We had three guys transfer. It was an easy way out for some, and others looked at it as more of a factor that solidified our team."

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