Junior right-hander Erik Johnson is one of the players facing a final season with the Bears. Photo: Michael Pimentel, Goldenbearsports.com.

Unless there is a future change of mind, today’s game against Utah at Evan Diamond marks the beginning of Cal’s final baseball season. The Bears have had 118 seasons, two national championships, five College World Series appearances and over 50 players who have gone on to the major leagues.

Weather permitting, Cal will play a three-game series against Utah with 1 pm games today, tomorrow and Sunday. Baseball America ranked Cal the nation’s 17th best team in their preseason roundup. The same analysis suggested the final season could be an important factor for Cal: “The uncertainty could have a galvanizing effect on the players, or it could be a major distraction and derail a team talented enough to reach its first super regional.”

The university’s athletic department announced the decision to cut baseball and four other sports in September. After furious lobbying and fundraising, three sports — rugby, women’s gymnastics and lacrosse — were reinstated earlier this month.

Baseball and men’s gymnastics did not get a reprieve. Baseball supporters hope that continued fundraising and campaigning can restore baseball to Cal in the future.

Lance Knobel (Berkeleyside co-founder) has been a journalist for nearly 40 years. Much of his career was in business journalism. He was editor-in-chief of both Management Today, the leading business magazine...