Continuing to defy injury-related percentages, top-ranked Buchanan High and Dominic Topoozian made their biggest statement yet Tuesday at Stan Bledsoe Field.
That's a natural question to ask about a junior right-hander who hasn't pitched competitively in four years.
But rising from No. 6 to No. 2 on the Bears' depth chart in a month, he improved to 4-0 by not allowing an earned run and striking out eight in five innings as Buchanan drilled No. 2 Clovis West 7-1 in a Tri-River Athletic Conference game.
"I would not have expected this. I was just happy to make the team," said Topoozian, an off-speed specialist who has an 0.68 ERA for an 11-1 team with a 1.58 ERA overall. He has recovered from a shoulder injury caused by a snowboarding accident.
And to think Buchanan, ranked seventh in the state a year after finishing No. 3 and with a Central Section Division I title, is near perfect in late March with Jordan Luplow (shoulder), Nathan Rousey (double hernia) and Ryan Lee (shoulder) not having thrown an inning.
Luplow definitely won't this season, though The Bee All-Star third baseman might hit in May. Rousey should return in a month. Lee is expected back in two weeks.
"I'm really pleased with the kids," Bears coach Tom Donald said following a rematch of last year's D-I championship that his team won 7-5. "This is one of the more unselfish teams I've ever coached."
Christian Parra hit a two-run, first-inning double and finished 3 for 3 with three RBIs for Buchanan, which went 0-3 against the Golden Eagles in the TRAC last season.
The Bears will play Clovis West again home and away April 12 and 15. The Eagles (9-2, 2-0) are ranked ninth in the state by Cal-Hi Sports and 18th nationally by MaxPreps.
Friday, in a marquee section night duel, Buchanan (2-0 TRAC) will match Seth Moranda (3-1, 1.22 ERA) – a four-year, 24-game winner – against No. 3 Clovis' Jimmy Jurado (4-0, 0.00).
"Getting that first win against each opponent is really pivotal for the rest of conference play," Donald said. "Dump that first one and then you have to beat a team twice in one week, and that's hard to do in conference."