Cal pitching coach leaves for USC

Hubbs takes same position at alma mater

Looks like there’s no place like home — not even a miraculous season that ended in Omaha.

Less than a month after the Cal baseball team exited the College World Series, pitching coach Dan Hubbs is returning to USC, where he took the mound from 1990 to 1993. Hubbs will serve as the Trojans’ pitching coach and associate head coach.

The hiring, which was originally rumored in early July, was officially announced Monday by USC head coach Frank Cruz.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to come back and coach where I played,” Hubbs said in a press release. “USC always has been a very special place to me and my family. I’m looking forward to helping get the program back to where it has been and should be, at the top of the collegiate baseball landscape.”

His departure is a blow to the Bears, who enjoyed steady performances on the mound during his 12-year tenure. Under Hubbs, Cal reset its own single-season strikeout record three times, including a new mark of 475 in 2011. This past spring, the pitching staff also posted the second-best ERA in the Pac-10.

His work has also helped make Cal a Major League pipeline. The coach saw four of his pitchers taken in the 2011 MLB Draft, including weekend starters Erik Johnson and Dixon Anderson. Tyson Ross, a 2008 second-round selection, and Brandon Morrow — who went No. 5 overall in 2006 to become the school’s highest-ever draftee — currently pitch for the Oakland A’s and Toronto Blue Jays, respectively.

Both Hubbs and Cal head coach David Esquer, whose own contract recently expired, arrived in Berkeley in 1999 after serving as assistants at Pepperdine. Esquer was named National Coach of the Year in June by the National College Baseball Writers Association.

As a Trojan nearly two decades ago, Hubbs was used as both a starter and reliever, and set a then-school record with 18 saves during senior season. He followed that with a seven-year career in the minors with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies.

By adding Hubbs, USC will hope to remedy what was one of the worst pitching staffs in the conference. In 2011, the Trojans ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in ERA, their mark of 4.83 lagging far behind seventh-best Arizona. Only Washington and Washington State were worse.

“We feel very fortunate to be able to add such an elite and highly-regarded coach to our staff as we work to return USC baseball to its tradition of excellence,” Cruz said. “It is another sign of the support we are receiving from athletic director Pat Haden and the USC athletic administration.”

Although USC has won 12 College World Series finals, at least double the total of any other school, it has not reached the postseason since 2005.