Kyle McKenney, a Fresno Bee All-Star goalie in water polo, helped save Buchanan last week and keep the Bears atop Central Section and state baseball rankings entering a double showdown with Clovis North to close the regular season while deciding the Tri-River Athletic Conference title and Division I top seed.
McKenney, a junior right-hander, had pitched only 11 innings all season before giving up only four hits in six shutout innings in an 8-0 win over section No. 3 Clovis last Tuesday.
“I can’t say enough for what Kyle did,” Buchanan coach Tom Donald said. “He’s been a varsity level guy in the water polo arena for a long time; he’s been in the bright lights in big situations there. Consequently, I don’t think he was intimidated (against Clovis).”
Buchanan, playing it cautious and not pitching 9-0 ace Grant Gambrell (slight arm strain) last week, followed that two days later with Hunter Reinke’s three-hitter and Cory Williams’ walk-off two-run homer in a 3-1 victory over the Cougars.
That means the 25-1 Bears – top-ranked in the section by The Bee, the state by Cal-Hi Sports and No. 4 nationally by CBS MaxPreps – enter Tuesday’s 6:30 p.m. showdown at Clovis North with a 12-1 TRAC record and a one-game lead over the Broncos. Gambrell is expected to start in that one.
Clovis North (22-4-1, 11-2), ranked No. 2 in the section and No. 3 in the state, defeated Buchanan 12-5 on April 8.
The Broncos and Bears close the regular season Thursday in a 6:30 p.m. game at Buchanan. The contest was moved up from Friday because of the Mountain West Conference Track and Field Championships at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Section seeding will be determined Saturday in the office of section commissioner Jim Crichlow. Playoffs will begin May 17.
CENTRAL SECTION BASEBALL RANKINGS
(Records through May 7)
- 1. Buchanan (TRAC, 25-1)
- 2. Clovis North (TRAC, 22-4-1)
- 3. Clovis (TRAC, 21-7)
- 4. Bullard (CMAC, 19-7)
- 5. Tulare Western (EYL, 19-7)
- 6. Stockdale (SWYL, 18-7)
- 7. Kerman (NSL, 20-7)
- 8. Mt. Whitney (WYL, 15-8)
- 9. Redwood (WYL, 19-6)
- 10. Edison (CMAC, 15-12)
- 11. Madera South (CMAC, 14-11)
- 12. Madera (CMAC, 15-10-1)
- 13. Clovis East (TRAC, 10-15-1)
- 14. Clovis West (TRAC, 10-16)
- 15. Hanford West (WYL, 14-11)
- DIVISION I: 1. Buchanan; 2. Clovis North; 3. Clovis
- DIVISION II: 1. Mt. Whitney; 2. Redwood; 3. Edison
- DIVISION III: 1. Kerman; 2. Madera South; 3. Dinuba (16-9-1)
- DIVISION IV: 1. Immanuel (20-6); 2. Firebaugh (20-3); 3. Exeter (17-9)
- DIVISION V: 1. Central Valley Christian (17-10); 2. Liberty-Madera Ranchos (14-7); 3. Chavez (16-4)
- DIVISION VI: 1. Sierra (10-11); 2. Kern Valley (12-5); 3. Lindsay (12-12)