COLLEGE BASEBALL PREVIEW

CAL

Coach: David Esquer, 14th season.

2012 record: 29-25.

Season opener: Friday vs. Michigan, 1:30 p.m.

Outlook: C Andrew Knapp was named a first-team preseason All-American by Baseball America after hitting .293 in the Cape Cod League with eight homers. A good pitching nucleus returns with LH starter Justin Jones, a 26th-round pick of Minnesota who opted to return, RH junior Kyle Porter (8-1, 2.91 career at Cal) and senior reliever Logan Scott (Serra), who had seven saves last season. 1B Devon Rodriguez is expected to provide some punch.

Complete schedule and more information: calbears.com.

SAINT MARY'S

Coach: Jedd Soto, 10th season.

2012 record: 24-29.

Season opener: Friday at Cal State Northridge, 2 p.m.

Outlook: The Gaels lost some potent bats but will be pitching- and defense-oriented behind a deep staff. Mark Anderson returns after missing last season because of Tommy John surgery. He won eight games and threw three shutouts as the Friday starter in 2011. Closer Patrick Keane (De La Salle) was 4-0 with seven saves and a 2.44 ERA last season. Brenden Kalfus and Cole Norton are returning outfield starters expected to lead the Gaels' offense.

Complete schedule and more information: smcgaels.com.


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SAN JOSE STATE

Coach: Dave Nakama, first season.

2012 record: 22-29.

Season opener: Friday vs. Pacific, 3 p.m.

Outlook: Nakama, formerly the coach at San Francisco State and Mission College and a longtime assistant at Stanford and Washington, replaces Sam Piraro, who retired after 25 years. 1B Matt Lopez (.322) is the top returning hitter. Left-handers David Wayne Russo (2-3, 3.97) and Johnny Melero (Archbishop Mitty, 2-7, 3.03) will anchor the pitching staff. Other returning starters include outfielders Andre Mercurio (Serra), Michael Gerlach and Nick Schulz (St. Francis) and infielders Jacob Valdez, Ricky Acosta and Caleb Natov.

Complete schedule and more information: sjsuspartans.com.

SANTA CLARA

Coach: Dan O'Brien, second season.

2012 record: 26-28.

Season opener: Friday vs. Seattle, 6 p.m.

Outlook: The Broncos improved from 17 to 26 wins in O'Brien's first season. Team batting leader Greg Harisis (.398) returns, as does Matt Ozanne (four home runs) and Justin Viele (.378 on-base average). Friday starter Tommy Nance is back to head the pitching staff. Powell Fansler, Max Deering and Mike Couch (Bellarmine) are other experienced returning pitchers. Among 12 newcomers is Jose Vizcaino Jr., son of the former major league infielder.

Complete schedule and more information: santaclarabroncos.com.

STANFORD

Coach: Mark Marquess, 37th season.

2012 record: 41-18.

Season opener: Friday at Rice, 2:30 p.m.

Outlook: The Cardinal would have been loaded even if first-round pick Mark Appel had signed. With Appel (Monte Vista) back as Friday starter, Stanford has been tabbed as the favorite in a very strong Pac-12 Conference. Appel (10-2, 2.56), 1B Brian Ragira (.329, 50 RBIs) and OF Austin Wilson (10 HR, 54 RBIs) are preseason All-Americans. Alex Blandino (St. Francis) had eight homers and 40 RBIs starting part-time as a freshman. Danny Diekroeger (Menlo) will start at 2B. A.J. Vanegas (Redwood Christian) is the closer.

Complete schedule and more information: gostanford.com.

USF

Coach: Nino Giarratano, 15th season.

2012 record: 29-30.

Season opener: Friday vs. Cal Poly, 2 p.m.

Outlook: OF Justin Maffei (Serra), the team batting leader a season ago at .315, has returned for his senior year. 2B Jason Mahood (.284) and 1B/OF Brendan Hendriks (.311) are other key returning position players. The staff is led by Abe Bobb (8-4, 2.18) and hard-throwing Alex Balog (Archbishop Mitty), who went 4-4 with a 3.43 ERA. Canada College transfer Zach Turner (Serra) is projected as the starting catcher and cleanup hitter. The Dons were picked fifth in the West Coast Conference preseason poll.

Complete schedule and more information: usfdons.com.

-- GLENN REEVES