Panic hit Cole Elvis like a fastball to the ribs when he made a verbal commitment in December 2017 to play baseball at San Jose State. Five of his Vacaville High School teammates would be going to universities such as Oregon State and Nevada, so Elvis figured he would have to take what he could get and settling for less was better than going to a junior college.
Troy Claunch was at Oregon State, Tyler Bosetti at Nevada, Shea Kramer at Utah, Braydon Altorfer at the Air Force Academy and Bryce Begell had committed a year earlier to play at Arizona. Elvis was left to choose between San Jose State and UC Davis with little reason to think a better offer would be coming his way.
“I didn’t see going anywhere else,” Elvis explained. “With two options, I really didn’t think there was a reason to wait.”
A better offer eventually came, and that is why Elvis will be wearing a Cal uniform Friday when the Golden Bears begin a three-game series against Arizona State in Berkeley. After Elvis found a way to get away from San Jose State, Cal happened to be in a market for a catcher. The rest is almost too good to be true.
Elvis had no idea when he signed his letter of intent with San Jose State that Spartans coach Jason Hawkins was under investigation for holding illegal practices. Elvis requested to be released from his letter of intent and given the circumstances, the Spartans obliged. He did not leave as much as he escaped.
The turmoil turned into a convenient excuse for Elvis to bail out, but now he realizes he should have never pledged to San Jose State in the first place. His senior year at Vacaville High was four months old when Elvis punched the panic button in fear he would graduate with no clue where his career would continue.
Elvis may have forgiven San Jose State had he not been kept in the dark during the investigation. He was confident Hawkins had the program going in the right direction and looked ahead to developing his skills as a catcher with assistant coach Tyler LaTorre, who was Italy’s catcher in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
“There was a lot of stuff left unsaid (during the investigation). That brought up some red flags,” Elvis recalled. “(LaTorre) took it really well. He knew there were a lot of moving parts. He tried to get me to stay. He told me that if I decided to come back, the offer would be still be there. Everything happens for a reason.”
Regardless of the reason, Elvis could not be happier at Cal. Most of his playing time as a freshman has come in nonconference games, but Elvis realizes he has to pay his dues. He has belted three of his five home runs in nonconference games on Tuesdays to earn the moniker of “Mr. Tuesday” from his teammates.
“Give me a weekend game,” Elvis quipped, “and I bet I’ll hit a homer then, too.”
His power has come as a surprise given that Elvis hit a total of three homers in his last two seasons at Vacaville. “I’m getting good pitches to hit, pitches up in the zone,” said Elvis, who still has to much to prove at the plate. His .188 average is the lowest among 11 Cal players with 40 or more at-bats this season.
Two of his nine hits came March 12 in a 13-0 victory over San Jose State. He also had two RBI and scored twice. By the way, that was on a Tuesday.