Imagine Cody Jimenez, a 5-foot-8, 140-pound junior battling for the No. 2 pitching job at Reedley High, walking into Buchanan's baseball stadium Monday for a Fresno Easter Baseball Classic first-day game.
First, attached to the facility's outside wall, he sees the large, colorful and imposing photos of Bears graduates Garrett Olson, as a major league pitcher; Jason Donald, as a USA Olympian shortstop; and Justin Wilson, as a pitcher for national champion Fresno State.
Then, once inside the stylish facility, he need only glance at the outfield wall and observe the prominent advertising of Buchanan's league and Central Section championships.
Finally, he takes the mound to challenge a heavy-hitting Bears team that arrived 13-2 for the season, ranked No. 2 in the section, No. 15 in the state and with five of the Classic's past eight championships.
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And he beats them 2-1 with a five-hitter.
Further, it was a single by Jimenez - batting ninth in the order - that aided a two-run Pirates rally in the bottom of the seventh to win it.
"I was a little intimidated," he said, "but I just pitched my game, went out and fought."
Trailing 1-0 after retiring Buchanan in the top of the seventh, he thought: "If we don't win this, I still pitched a heck of a game. Lose 1-0 to the [No. 2] in the section? Unbelievable."
But Reedley (11-6) scored twice off the Bears' Ryan Anderson in the bottom of the frame featuring Jarod Chiasson's walk, Jimenez's single and a game-ending double to right-center field by sophomore Jonathon Rodriguez.
In the tournament that has each of 30 teams play four games in three days, the Pirates then remained at the same site and lost 6-2 to Yosemite. "We had the adrenalin rush," Reedley coach Dan Ascanio said, "then tried to wind them up again to no avail."
- Buchanan, later, tied Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove 1-1 in a contest called after nine innings - the maximum allowed by tournament rules. Chris Rodgers gave up five hits and struck out 11 in eight innings for the Bears. Dylan Chavez pitched a three-hitter for Pleasant Grove, whose cleanup hitter, Jordan Vina - son of former major leaguer and current ESPN baseball analyst Fernando Vina - went 1 for 4.
- Clovis received singles from Zach Coy and Josh Garrett, a walk by Cody White, a two-run single from Bryce Vidmar and a wild pitch to score three times in the seventh and beat Memorial 6-5.
- Clovis West (15-2), displacing Clovis as the section's No. 1 team, went 2-0 without using top pitchers J.D. Salles and Sean Silva. The Golden Eagles beat Sunnyside 10-4 behind the pitching of Jared Lee and Salles' three hits and four RBIs before defeating McLane 10-0 in five innings behind the pitching of junior Eric Karch.