Clovis News: Sports

Buchanan High baseball reaches section final

Seth Moranda won again as a pitcher – No. 33 for his career.

Buchanan High won again as a team – No. 29 for the season.

The Bears won for the fourth time against Clovis – state-ranked for much of the season.

So Buchanan has won the Tri-River Athletic Conference title and is top-ranked in the Central Section, state and nation.

The Bears have done it all, right?

Oh, no.

"We want to finish strong, we want to finish with a win, and that's all that really matters," Moranda said after throwing a two-hitter in a 5-1 victory over Clovis on Wednesday night in a Central Section Division I semifinal played before a crowd of about 2,000 at Buchanan.

For all the achievements, there remains the most meaningful assignment of all – a championship showdown with the state's 12th-ranked Centennial at 4:30 p.m. Friday on the Bears' field.

The Golden Hawks are 23-4 following a 22-10 throttling of Central in a game where they slugged six home runs.

"Twenty-two runs, holy cow, who does that?" Buchanan coach Tom Donald said.

Much has been said over the years about Centennial taking advantage of hitter-friendly conditions at home – short dimensions and wind typically blowing out.

But the Hawks have outhomered the opposition 56-16 this season. And they'll balance that power Friday with starter Grant Watson, a senior left-hander, who's 9-0 with a 1.83 ERA.

The Bears will counter with junior right-hander Dominic Topoozian (10-0, 0.93), who stirred some concern by giving up five hits and two runs in two innings before being pulled in a 9-2 quarterfinal win over Bullard.

Playing competitive baseball for the first time in four years, he's thrown 75 innings.

"His arm's a little tired and fatigued," Donald said, "but Dom's a competitor and warrior; he will gut through it."

The coach made this clear: Moranda (12-1) could fire in relief.

High school pitchers, by state CIF rules, can throw a maximum of 10 innings in a week. And Donald said he won't hesitate to turn to the four-year veteran: "It's his senior year and he's smelling that finish line.

"I've never asked him to throw 10 innings in a week in his career. But I sat him down Monday and asked him how he felt and what he thought about it; I want him to take ownership of it. I asked if could mentally gear up for 10 innings this week and he didn't hesitate."

Said Moranda, who will likely play infield at Fresno State: "I could close it out."

Three errors by Clovis (23-9) led to three unearned runs off junior Michael Fain (8-2), a wild pitch scored another and bases-loaded walks two more.

Key hits for the Bears were Jeff Brown's RBI single in the first and Matt Krick's double and Austin Kemp's RBI infield single in the fifth.

Centennial 22, Central 10

The second-seeded Hawks of the Southwest Yosemite League received home runs from Alberto Villalobos (two), Garrett Pierce, Justin Martinez, Cole Hallum and Brody Russell to crush the No. 3 Grizzlies (24-6).

Fresno State-bound Jordan Brink had a home run and four RBIs for Central.

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