Clovis News: Sports

Pleasant Grove starts strong in Easter Classic

Their young history suggests strongly they will be major baseball players in the Sac-Joaquin and Central sections.

But Monday night, it was all about the one with more experience and talent -- Pleasant Grove High of Elk Grove, which handed the ball to Kyle Castro and received a pitching clinic while coasting past Clovis North 13-0 on the Broncos' field to complete first-day play in the Fresno Easter Baseball Classic.

"That's about as well as we can play," said coach Rob Rinaldi, whose Eagles joined Buchanan, Fresno and Clovis West as the only 2-0 teams in the 41st event that calls for the 36 teams to play four games in three days.

Pleasant Grove, in its fourth season and third with seniors, arrived 8-0 and top-ranked in the Sac-Joaquin Section after averaging 18 wins its first three years.

Clovis North, in its second season and still a year away from seniors, marched in 13-1 and fifth-ranked in the Central Section after going 22-10 in 2009.

Further, the Broncos turned to their ace, Chris Mariscal, a junior right-hander coming off a no-hitter and 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA.

But it was 7-0 after four innings, Mariscal was out after throwing 84 pitches, and it was all Castro.

"I haven't thrown a better game than this," said the 6-foot-4, 195-pound right-hander, who, in fact had thrown three very good ones.

Coming in 3-0 with an 0.50 ERA, he pitched a two-hitter while throwing 73% of his pitches for strikes -- 49 of 67.

He has played a lot of ball with his cousin, Mason Hastings, on their neighboring ranch in the Sacramento suburb of Elk Grove. And the 16-year-old juniors made it looked like just another play day Monday night as Hastings did the catching.

"It's like your best friend's sitting over there, throwing to him," said Castro, who struck out eight and walked one.

Broncos coach Chris Patrick could only applaud: "They played better than us in every facet. There wasn't a whole lot to tell my guys. It can be a humbling game, but I'm excited to see how we answer back [today]."