RIVERSIDE --- A dream season culminated in a lifelong dream come true for a pair of California Baptist University baseball standouts Saturday afternoon.
Seniors Zach Esquerra and Jon Bengard both had their names called on the third day of the 2013 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Esquerra, the Rawlings/ABCA Division II National Player of the Year and PacWest Player of the Year, was selected in the 24th round (No. 720 overall) by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bengard, the two-time PacWest Pitcher of the Year, was selected in the 30th round (No. 903 overall) by the Chicago White Sox.
“It’s a crazy feeling knowing that everything you have done since high school, all the working out, extra hitting, tough times and good times, has led to this moment,” said Esquerra. “The draft is a crazy process and to get this chance to play professionally is unbelievable.”
In three seasons, Esquerra hit .333 and was second in program history with 42 career home runs, seventh with 142 RBI, seventh with 143 runs and seventh with 43 doubles. This year, he tied a career high with 17 home runs, the third highest total in all of collegiate baseball in the regular season.
Esquerra will likely end up in Arizona’s Single-A short-season teams in either Oregon or Montana.
Meanwhile, Bengard threw a combined 19 innings his first two collegiate seasons but dominated each of his last two to earn back-to-back PacWest Pitcher of the Year honors. He finished his career 25-4, one win shy of tying the program’s career record. His 2.71 ERA is the best in program history and his 201 is the fourth-best total in program history.
“This is something I’ve been dreaming about since I was four,” said Bengard, who racked up 183 strikeouts the past two seasons. “After my sophomore year, I thought this might be out of reach, but all the hard work paid off and I got my opportunity. It’s a one in a million chance, and I’m excited to be living the dream.”
Bengard will find out in a few days where he is likely to be heading.
It is the fourth straight year the Lancers have had at least one player selected in the MLB Draft and Esquerra and Bengard are the 10th and 11th CBU players selected since Head Coach Gary Adcock took over the program in 2004.
“It’s great to see these two get a chance to pursue a lifelong dream,” said Adcock. “Coming in as undrafted players out of high school this accomplishment only comes with a lot of effort and energy put forth by them, the coaching staff and their teammates. We look forward to watching them progress through the system.”