Clovis East High's Brandon Bianchi spent most of this past season racking up hits en route to setting the school's single-season record.
So it wasn't much of a surprise that, with a bat in his hand and representing the Timberwolves one final time during Sunday's City/County all-star baseball game, Bianchi wouldn't pass on the chance to collect another hit. Even if it required swinging at a ball.
Bianchi turned on a high-and-inside pitch for a three-run homer and Clovis West's Eric Karch threw a scoreless ninth to secure the City's 7-6 win before an announced crowd of 1,345 at Chukchansi Park.
"When you get to a stage like this, playing in an all-star game, you want to do something special," said Bianchi, who is expected to continue playing at College of the Sequoias next season. "I wasn't going to walk. I wanted to do something with the ball, even if I made an out."
Bianchi's homer, which sailed into the left-field bleachers in the fourth inning, put City ahead 6-3.
The County had scored two runs in the first and one run in the second. But it went hitless from the third to fifth inning as Clovis West's Michael Isom, Clovis East's William Rosado and Memorial's Justin Soma each threw a scoreless inning.
The City expanded its lead to 7-3 in the fifth after Edison's Skippy Ferreria scored on a wild pitch. Ferreria walked to get on base, then stole second and moved to third on a fielder's choice.
But the County finally got back in the game in the eighth, led by Jeremy Clark of Central. With his quick hands, Clark connected on a two-strike pitch for a single up the middle that brought in Chowchilla's Tyler Badger and Liberty-Madera Ranchos' Caleb Hillis.
Clark then scored on a single from his Central teammate Brandon Jaime that reduced the City's lead to 7-6.
"I always liked our chances of winning," said County coach Kirk Delmas of Chowchilla. "The County has got talent. We had our chances to win."
Then came a strenuous ninth inning.
"The gameplan in these all-star games is to have fun and enjoy the experience and get everyone in the game," City coach Cliff Rold of Edison said. "But the ninth inning, that's about winning."
That explained why Rold saved perhaps his best pitcher for the end, sending the Pepperdine-bound Karch to the mound for the ninth.
The former Clovis West ace immediately got two outs before issuing a walk. County pinch runner Chris Rodriguez then stole second to put the tying run in scoring position.
But Karch struck out Badger looking.
"It was a fun experience," Karch said. "Playing in a stadium like this was just amazing. Hopefully, I get to play here one day on my way to the majors."