A few hours after learning his Clovis West High baseball team was ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America, coach Kevin Patrick handed Eric Karch a ball and bat and said, "Carry us, buddy."
Oh, how did he.
Opposing a team (Clovis East) and player (William Rosado) who dominated the Golden Eagles a month ago, Karch delivered an RBI single in a two-run first inning, struck out two while escaping a bases-loaded jam in the seventh and finished with a two-hitter as Clovis West won 2-0 Tuesday on the road.
"We really can't concern ourselves with rankings," Patrick said. "We can't control them. We can only control what we do and Eric's such a great competitor, he gives us a chance to win every time out."
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The Eagles' 11th straight victory -- all since that humbling 8-1 loss to the Timberwolves -- improved them to 22-2 overall and 9-1 in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, where they lead Clovis East (6-4) and Buchanan (6-4) by three games with five remaining.
Clovis West, also No. 1 in The Bee's Central Section rankings, will play at home against No. 6 Clovis East at 6:30 p.m. Friday, but out of the way is the left arm of Rosado, who pitched a two-hitter and struck out 11 after beating the Eagles with a one-hitter the first time.
National attention isn't new to Fresno County baseball -- Clovis and Bullard have each finished top ranked twice since 1980.
"I told the players to take it for what it's worth and enjoy it," Patrick said. "I don't know that we're the best team in the nation, but we're honored and thrilled to be on top -- it's a great place to be."