Former Clovis West standout Ryan Clark wonders if he’s living a dream.
Clark and his UC Santa Barbara teammates went into Louisville, Ky., in an NCAA Super Regional series and swept the Cardinals 4-2 and 4-3 – scoring four runs in the bottom of the ninth in the clincher – to earn the program’s first berth in the College World Series this weekend in Omaha, Neb.
“It still feels like we’re in a dream and more like a haze,” said Clark, a senior third baseman. “It’s a pretty unbelievable feeling.”
A year ago, UCSB had a program-record 10 players selected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft. The Gauchos, who also feature former Clovis High standout Tevin Mitchell in the infield, followed that up with a 42-18-1 season heading into their CWS opener against Oklahoma State (41-20) at noon Saturday.
This is what every senior dreams of in their lives and we made it happen. I still can’t believe we’re in Omaha.
Led by fifth-year coach Andrew Checketts, UCSB is 5-0 in the postseason.
“This is what every senior dreams of in their lives and we made it happen. I still can’t believe we’re in Omaha and practicing on the field. We’re actually here,” Clark said.
Clark, playing through a partially torn knee ligament suffered in a collision with a catcher in a 5-4 walk-off win over Hawaii on May 1, is hitting .270 with six doubles, a home run and 14 RBIs in 44 games.
Mitchell, a freshman infielder, has played in 26 games, hitting .250 with six RBIs.
At the Nashville Regional, the Gauchos opened with a 3-2, 14-inning victory against Washington, then beat Xavier twice, 5-4 and 14-5, to advance to their first Super Regional.
Clark said winning the regional showed the Gauchos that “anything is possible.”
“Can’t really help but to feel confident,” he said. “That’s the way postseason works sometimes for teams. Kind of been going our way so far.
I knew we were going to be young and I think that’s what’s best.
“Our bullpen this whole postseason has been unreal. That’s what we were worried about at first. Just because we had a couple guys who went down. But for the most part, our bullpen has held us together this whole postseason, and timely hitting, obviously, and (two) walk-offs.”
Big Duke – Duke sophomore infielder Jack Labosky (Clovis North) started all 56 games and hit .290 with a team-high eight home runs.
He also had 18 doubles and led the team with 47 RBIs. The Blue Devils advanced to the Columbia Regional before they were eliminated.
Lots of locals – Several local players were on the Cal State Monterey Bay team that went 34-21 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Regionals:
▪ OF Justin Flores (Clovis West/Fresno City College): Started 52 games and drove in 40 runs. He had 12 doubles and four home runs.
▪ OF Will Rosado (Clovis East/Fresno City): Made 54 starts and had seven home runs with 30 RBIs. He was hit by a pitch 15 times, which led the Otters.
▪ RHP Jorge Alvarado (Fresno/Fresno City): Started seven games and appeared in 13, going 2-2 with a 5.45 ERA.
▪ RHP Jacob Cox (Liberty-Madera Ranchos/Fresno City): Went 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA in 12 games.
▪ INF Zakry Taylor (Madera/Fresno City): Played in 13 games, hitting .107 with two RBIs.
▪ OF Joe Garabedian (Clovis West/Fresno City): Played four games and had six at-bats.