RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- California Baptist University's Taylor Siemens and Brian Sharp dominated the Golden State Athletic Conference the past two seasons together, so it's only fitting that the former Lancers were both drafted together on the second day of the 2011 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Siemens was selected in the 18th round, No. 544 overall, by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Sharp, who was named to the NAIA All-American second team yesterday, was taken in the 24th round (722 overall) by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
"This is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders," said Siemens. "It's been a couple of stressful days, and I couldn't handle all the waiting. This was more stressful than any final I have ever taken."
It was so stressful that Siemens didn't sit around the computer waiting to see when his name popped up on the draft board today. Instead, he killed the time going for a run, eating lunch and doing what he's done best the past few years in Riverside--playing catch.
Then his phone rang.
"I actually was informed by (head) coach (Gary) Adcock," said Siemens. "We weren't looking at the computer, and then he was the first one to call, and he broke the news to me. It didn't sink in. In fact, it still hasn't really sunk in."
Siemens was an impressive 26-8 during his three-year career in Riverside with a 3.02 career ERA. He logged a massive 298 innings of work and recorded 245 strikeouts. His 26 wins are tied for the program career record, and his strikeout total is second. He has thrown the third-most innings in program history.
Over the course of the past two seasons alone, the two-time All-GSAC honoree was 20-3 with a 2.88 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 218.2 innings.
Interestingly, Fresno Pacific's Jesse Darrah, whom Siemens beat out for GSAC Pitcher of the Year honors this year, was also selected by the Diamondbacks in the eighth round.
"It's definitely going to be a weird transition," said Siemens, when referring to now being teammates with one of his collegiate rivals. "There were some good pitchers in this draft, and Arizona selected some of them. I'm honored to be one of the ones they selected."
Siemens and Sharp are the first set of Lancer teammates to be selected in the same draft since 2006 when Aaron Hartosck (23rd round) and Josh Banda (35th round) were both taken in that draft.
"It's exciting to see two players who didn't get drafted out of high school get an opportunity to play professionally," said Adcock. "It really is a testament to their hard work and the hard work of our coaching staff the past three years. We pride ourselves on development, and days like today are always rewarding for both the players and the program."
It is also the first time since 2006 and 2007 the Lancers had players taken in back-to-back drafts. Garrett Rau was selected in the 12th round last year.
For Sharp, today's announcement was a culmination of three years of hard work, determination and being in the right place at the right time. Three years ago, he was out of baseball. Today, he is a professional.
Back in 2008, longtime friend and Lancer teammate Jake Johnson encouraged Sharp to get back in the game and tryout for Adcock and the Lancers. It must have been some tryout.
Not only did Sharp make the team, but within three years he tagged his name all over the CBU record books, became the program's first-ever two-time GSAC Player of the Year and now is one of 12 Lancers ever to have their named called on draft day.
"I was just hoping to make the team. I just wanted to be a part of it and get an education," said Sharp, thinking back to that tryout four years ago. "I just missed playing. At the time, I thought there was no chance this would happen. I had no expectation of getting drafted. But, I had a good 2010 season and I started thinking about it, and here I am. I don't believe it."
Sharp became a self-made program changer. He is the program's all-time leader in runs scored (165) and stolen bases (89) and also ranks among the program's all-time leaders in hit-by-pitch (45-2nd), hits (208-4th), doubles (45-4th), triples (4-5th), total bases (327-5th), RBI (134-6th), walks (67-6th), games played (165-9th), home runs (22-10th) and average (10th-.354). No player has their name in more career categories than Sharp.
He is the only player in program history to be named GSAC Player of the Year twice and is the 11th player in program history to earn All-American recognition.
And now he's a Pittsburgh Pirate.
"It was a stressful day, because we had no idea when or where I was going," said Sharp. "I went to the gym early to relieve some stress then just stayed by the pool the rest of the day. I didn't want to hear or see anything at all. My brother-in-law came outside to tell me when my name showed up and then I got about 18 phone calls. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders."
Neither Sharp nor Siemens know exactly where they are headed next.
Siemens leaves Thursday for a physical and workouts in Arizona. The Diamondbacks will likely send him to either rookie ball in Montana or short-season A ball in Washington. Sharp could likely end up in rookie ball in Florida or short-season A ball in Pennsylvania.
Either way, today will be a day neither one of them will forget.
"I'm excited about the opportunity, because it's an organization that likes to use their farm system," said Sharp. "Hopefully I can show well and see what happens. I have a good friend (Brooks Pounders) who was taken in the second round by them a few years back. Maybe someday we'll be able to play together again."
"You can only play baseball for so long while you're young, so I'm just hoping to enjoy the full experience," said Siemens.