NO. 1 BUCHANAN (29-1) vs. NO. 2 CLOVIS NORTH (24-6-1)
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
How they got here: Buchanan won Tri-River Athletic Conference (14-1); in playoffs, defeated No. 8 Liberty-Bakersfield 9-1, d. No. 4 Bullard 5-3; Clovis North finished second in TRAC (11-4); in playoffs, d. No. 10 Centennial 12-6, d. No. 3 Clovis 5-4.
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Head-to-head: Buchanan won 2-of-3 in the TRAC, 7-0, 5-1. Clovis North won the other, 12-5.
Section titles: Buchanan (5) 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2015; Clovis North (1) 2013.
Buchanan, of note: While the Bears continue to be top-ranked in the nation by USA Today’s computer poll and in the state by Cal-Hi Sports, there’s no question they had some of the giddy knocked out of their step by Bullard Thursday in a 5-3 semifinal win that had them play “tight,” according to coach Tom Donald. Even CBS MaxPreps National Player of the Year candidate Grant Gambrell was a bit humbled in that one, too, but, nonetheless, the Oregon State-bound 11-0 right-hander will get the ball again while also batting cleanup with a .370 average and .610 slugging percentage. From No. 1 (Jamal O’Guinn, .352) to No. 9 (Chase Rocamora, .396), there are no easy outs in the lineup. No. 3-hitting Quentin Selma, the TRAC Offensive Player of the Year, grandson of the late Major League pitcher Dick Selma and only a junior, is batting .442 with 10 home runs, five triples, four home runs and a .778 slugging percentage. For all the team’s pitching and hitting glitter, the defense of third baseman Selma, shortstop O’Guinn and second baseman J.T. Arruda (.341, 25 runs) may trump them all.
Clovis North, of note: Broncos have been anchored there, lurking with knockout potential all along, while Buchanan has sailed with its national headlines. Yes, they were swept by the Bears, 7-0, 5-1, on May 10 and 12, but the TRAC play began with Clovis North pounding Buchanan 12-5 in early April and the Broncos will arrive at Rawhide Ballpark sans intimidation. Junior right-hander Brett Walker (10-1, 1.62) and senior left-hander Michael Williams (8-2, 1.80) figure to split pitching duties, catcher James Bell (.482) may be the most feared hitter in the section, yes, as a sophomore; senior center fielder Matt Fraizer (.384) is going to Arizona for a reason; and junior outfielder Noah Haupt is one of the top athletes on a campus loaded with them.
NO. 3 REDWOOD (22-8) vs. NO. 5 TEHACHAPI (25-5-1)
When: Monday, 8 p.m.
How they got here: Redwood tied for second in the West Yosemite League at 8-4; in playoffs, d. No. 14 Sanger 3-2, d. No. 6 Memorial 5-0; d. No. 10 Bakersfield 7-6. Tehachapi won the South Yosemite League at 13-2; in playoffs, d. No. 12 North 9-3, d. No. 4 Madera 12-3, d. No. 1 Mt. Whitney 2-0.
Head-to-head: Tehachapi d. Redwood 3-1.
Section titles: Redwood (2) 1984, 2015; Tehachapi (2) 2001, 2003.
Redwood, of note: What’s obvious about the Rangers under coach Dan Hydash, they’ll remain a force for a while, likely on course for a D-I demotion in the 2018 season, when a section new three-year, competitive equity based alignment cycle will have been launched. A year after winning the D-II title, they return junior first baseman Jace Chamberlin (.404, 29 RBI) and junior center fielder Chris Gonzalez (.375, 30 runs, 14 stolen bases). And Hydash can deal from a pitching deck counting seniors Josue Mendivil (5-3, 1.84) and Mikey Saldana (7-1, 1.98), and junior Jake Bower (6-0, 1.54), in this one.
Tehachapi, of note: It all begins with Sagun Gainey, a pro prospect, who bounced Mt. Whitney with a two-hitter in the semis – this, two months after beating Redwood 3-1. He’s a four-year starter also batting .411 with 37 runs.
NO. 6 SELMA (19-11) vs. NO. 13 PORTERVILLE (16-15)
When: Monday, 1 p.m.
How they got here: Selma placed fourth in the Central Sequoia League at 7-8; in playoffs, d. No. 11 East Bakersfield 7-6, d. No. 3 Lemoore 7-2, d. No. 10 Ridgeview 6-5. Porterville placed third in the East Yosemite League at 8-7; in playoffs, d. No. 4 Madera South 6-1, d. No. 5 Reedley 6-5, d. No. 1 Kerman 4-2.
Section titles: Selma (7) 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1993, 2007, 2013; Porterville (0).
Selma, of note: After taking their lumps in the strong CSL, the Bears are confident nonethelesss with a group that has been successful in the lower levels. Three years after winning D-IV, they’re led by infielders Anthony Brooks (.407), Josh Mares (.360, 31 runs, 17 RBIs) and Klayton Carrasco (.304), and catcher Eli Gastellum (.341). Coach John Hollett, in his 14th season, will choose among three starting pitching candidates.
Porterville, of note: No one in the section can match the improbable run of the Panthers in bouncing Nos. 1, 4 and 5 seeds. Junior Jacob Hernandez (8-6, 1.98) will likely get the start against Selma after throwing two complete games in the playoffs. He’s also hitting .346 with team-leading totals of 26 runs and 26 RBIs. Also hot are center fielder Jacob Haas (.431) and first baseman Joe Valdez (.379).
NO. 1 FIREBAUGH (26-3) vs. NO. 2 IMMANUEL (24-6)
When: Monday, 9:30 a.m.
How they got here: Firebaugh won the West Sierra League at 10-0; in playoffs, d. No. 9 Yosemite 19-1, d. No. 4 Exeter 4-0. Immanuel won the Central Sequoia League at 11-4; in playoffs, d. No. 7 Wasco 15-1, d. No. 3 Fowler 11-1.
Head-to-head: Firebaugh won 5-2, Immanuel won 3-2.
Section titles: Firebaugh (2) 2013, 2015; Immanuel (4) 1993, 1995, 2002, 2005.
Firebaugh, of note: Eagles have taken flight with a remarkable display of youth in freshmen Jeshua Gutierrez (.353, 27 runs) and Michael Leyva (.377, 27 runs, 18 RBIs) and sophomore Tyler Palmer (.343, 52 runs). Junior Brian Lopez is hitting .319 with 24 runs and 19 RBIs and is 10-1 on the mound.
Immanuel, of note: So good are the Eagles on the mound, they won’t start Carson Schellenberg (8-1, 1.19), who pitched consecutive no-hitters earlier in the season while earning Cal-Hi Sports Northern California Pitcher of the Week honors. Coach John Franco will instead turn to senior right-hander Estenban Lizaola (9-0, 1.28, 116 strikeouts, 29 walks, 71 ⅓ innings). Immanuel has given up one or no runs in 13 games. The offense has been led by senior A.J. Pease (.412, 26 RBIs).
NO. 1 CENTRAL VALLEY CHRISTIAN (19-12) vs. NO. 2 CHAVEZ (21-4)
When: Monday, 4:30 p.m.
How they got here: Central Valley Christian placed fifth in the Central Sequoia League at 6-9; in playoffs, d. No. 8 Caruthers 13-0, d. No. 4 Minarets 14-5. Chavez placed second in the South Sequoia League at 9-3; in playoffs, d. No. 7 Arvin 10-4, d. Liberty-Madera Ranchos 8-7.
Section titles: Central Valley Christian (0); Chavez (1) 2015.
Central Valley Christian, of note: Cavaliers’ .310-hitting offense is charged by Dalton Daily (.484, 28 runs, 28 RBIs), Rance Danell II (.348), Noah Flores (.337, 26 runs, 22 RBIs) and Bradley Taylor (.329, 22 runs, 20 RBIs).
Chavez, of note: Section’s most productive offensive trio links Gerardo Parra (.410, 23 runs, 47 RBIs), Andrew Renteria (.397, 40 runs, 30 RBIs) and Julian Lopez (.383, 34 runs, 24 RBIs).
NO. 1 SIERRA (14-12) vs. NO. 2 KERN VALLEY (16-5)
When: Tuesday, 4 p.m.
How they got here: Sierra placed fourth in the North Sequoia League at 6-9; in playoffs, d. No. 8 Fresno Christian 11-6, d. No. 4 McFarland 6-4. Kern Valley placed second in the High Desert League at 6-2; in playoffs, d. No. 7 Strathmore 7-0, d. No. 3 Lindsay 5-4 (eight innings).
Section titles: Sierra (0); Kern Valley (0).
Sierra, of note: Twelve-member roster has been carried by Will Martin, who’s going out with a special senior season (.411, 22 runs, 25 RBIs, 10 doubles, .602 slugging percentage).
Kern Valley, of note: Difficult to squeeze more out of a 21-game season than junior Zach Bushling (.661, 36 runs, 49 RBIs, six doubles, six triples, nine home runs). And then there’s Austin Dilley (.391), Blake Lanterman (.383) and Sam Hanawalt (.381).