Battle Royale; Buchanan, Clovis North, Clovis baseball in state’s top 10

Featured photo by Nick Baker – Buchanan’s No. 3 Chase Rocamora dives back to the bag while No. 21 first baseman Kohl Simas positions himself for the throw in the Bears 5-2 win over the Eagles on April 29. Simas homered earlier in the game.

By Paul Meadors, Sports Editor

Coaches will tell you that rankings don’t mean anything during the season – it’s the championship ring at the end that matters. In other words, it don’t mean a thing if you don’t get that ring.

But it sure makes for a great story.

In the latest high school baseball rankings by Cal-Hi Sports, Buchanan (23-1) is No. 1, Clovis North (20-4-1) is No. 6 and Clovis (21-5) is No. 10.

Let’s marinate on that for a minute – the state of California is represented by 4,495 high schools and three of the top 10 baseball teams in the state are right here in our own backyard. No matter how you slice it, it’s a pretty impressive feat.
But ah, there lies the rub – there can be only one ring bearer at the end.

And before playoffs begin on May 17, there are some battles to be won on the diamond the next two weeks for TRAC supremacy. Buchanan, who is also ranked No. 4 in the nation by USA Today and No. 4 by the MaxPreps Writers’ Poll, will take on Clovis on May 3 and 6 and Clovis North on May 10 and 13. These games are considered can’t-miss baseball.

While the next two weeks promise incredible pitching from these top ranked teams (Buchanan’s Grant Gambrell and Hunter Reinke, Clovis North’s Michael Williams and Brett Walker, Clovis’ Zac Whittaker and Dom Liberta or Chet Allison) the players have bought in to the process and the theory of playing one game at a time.

“I’m very excited (about the last two weeks), it’s always fun playing against good ball clubs like Clovis High and Clovis North but we have to take it one game at a time,” said Buchanan catcher Zach Presno, who’s committed to Fresno State as a junior. “It doesn’t matter who’s in the other dugout, we just need to play our game like we have been doing all year and we should be just fine.”

And Clovis North’s Matt Frazier, a senior all-state player who’s attending the University of Arizona next year, also understands the importance of staying in the moment and not looking ahead.

“Our team has been playing good baseball and finding ways to win,” said Frazier, who went 4-4 with a three-run home run against Clovis on April 22. “However, we still have improvements to make in all aspects of our game. If we stay focused we feel we can compete with any team.”

Let the games begin. And now a look back at the week that was:

April 26

Clovis North 4 Clovis East 3

Michael Williams allowed three runs over 6 2/3 innings striking out three and walking two in the win to improve to 7-1 on the season. Jacob Boele went 2-3, scored two runs with an RBI single. Clovis East’s Jared Aguilar singled home two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning before Clovis North’s Justin Fuson got the final out.

Clovis 5 Central 1

In only his second start of the season Chet Allison pitched six innings, allowing one run and striking out five to improve to 4-0 on the season. Center fielder Tyson Fraser went 2-4 with two runs and an RBI and teammate Mason Grotto went 2-3 with a double and three RBIs for the Cougars.

Buchanan 10 Clovis West 0

Senior Grant Gambrell improved to 9-0 on the season, pitching only four innings but striking out five. He also contributed an RBI double, while second baseman JT Arruda went 3-5 with an RBI, third baseman Quentin Selma went 3-4 with two doubles and shortstop Jamal O’Guinn hit two doubles. For Clovis West Fernando Ramirez went 2-3.

April 29

Clovis North 5 Clovis East 2

In another tight game between the Broncos and the Timberwolves, Brett Walker pitched a complete game victory, striking out five and only allowing one hit and one walk. Nick Nurcanyon went 3-3 with an RBI for the Broncos and Jeremy Miller chipped in by going 2-3 with a double, RBI and run scored.

Clovis 6 Central 0

Tyson Fraser continued his hot week by going 2-2 with two RBIs and a run scored while senior pitcher Zac Whittaker threw six innings, allowing only three hits and struck out 10. Mason Grotto plated two RBI for the Cougars as well.

Buchanan 5 Clovis West 2

Junior Hunter Reinke improved to 8-0 on the season by hurling six innings, striking out six and giving up two runs. Buchanan’s JT Arruda went 3-5 and led off the game with a home run and tallied two runs and 2 RBIs. Kohl Simas hit a home run for Clovis West.

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