In the eyes of many in the baseball community, the no-hitter thrown by Clovis North High's Chris Mariscal on Friday against Edison will be accompanied with an asterisk.
And that includes Edison coach Cliff Rold, who says E.J. Lopez's two-out, bad-hop grounder in the seventh inning that struck Broncos second baseman Brandon Renwick on the cheek should have been ruled a single.
"I feel awful for [Mariscal]," Rold said, "but, unfortunately, that wasn't a no-hitter; it was a one-hitter. They can score it however they want, but it was a hit."
Such balls that suddenly alter course after striking the infield fringe, a sprinkler head, hole or pebble are typically scored base hits because the defender has no control over them.
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Clovis North coach Chris Patrick acknowledges this is what happened in the County/Metro Athletic Conference game won 3-0 by his team.
But he said he was considering the circumstances -- the game's score and the first no-hitter in the two-year program's history -- in ruling it an error.
"Ask any official scorekeeper around, and they'll say a hit to break up a perfect game or no-hitter has to be clean," he said. "If the score was 5-4, I'd probably call it a hit. But it didn't affect the outcome of the game."
Patrick, whose 169 hits in a four-year career at Clovis from 1997-2000 rank third in Central Section history, admits he benefited from a few bad-hop hits.
But he says if he were in Lopez's shoes, he wouldn't have wanted to break up a no-hitter that way: "I'd want to hit a line drive off the guy to say I legitimately broke it up."
Broncos team to beat in conference and division
Clovis North (10-1) has established itself as not only the favorite in the CMAC, but in the section's Division III as well.
The Broncos are experienced at every position after going 22-10 last year when they placed third behind Bullard and Edison in the CMAC and reached the D-III semifinals.
They're No. 5 this year in the section overall rankings. And the school is still a year away from graduating its first senior class. "We match up better now with Bullard and Edison," Patrick said. "We're not intimidated by them anymore. Getting that first win against Edison was big."
Clovis North has several quality wins:
Edison is the section's defending D-II champion.
7-5 over Hanford, the defending D-III winner.
7-2 over Hanford West, which is 11-1.
7-2 over Memorial, the 2009 D-II runner-up.
No. 1 Buchanan reloads
Buchanan, top-ranked in the first Bee rankings and braced for a home-field Tri-River Athletic Conference showdown with No. 2 Clovis West tonight, is deep in talent again -- somehow.
The Bears lost every position starter from a team that won the TRAC and finished 24-5-1.
In addition, players powering Clovis North now were groomed in the Buchanan district.
"We have several players who can play different positions," Buchanan coach Tom Donald said. "That creates a nice luxury and environment with depth."
Tonight, the Bears will match Seth Moranda (Cal State-Fullerton) against the Eagles' Eric Karch (Pepperdine) in a duel of 3-0 pitchers who have made college commitments.
Questionable for the game is Buchanan cleanup hitter Jack Karraker, the senior third baseman/pitcher who took a line drive off his ear in a 2-1 win at Madera on Friday.
He was examined at a hospital and released, and doesn't have a concussion.
But Donald said his availability will probably be a game-time decision.
Clovis West continues to play without Bee All-Star catcher/third baseman John Koretoff, a .402 hitter in 2009 who broke his nonthrowing (left) wrist in practice a month ago. He is expected to return in two weeks.