Final day drama in the Fresno Easter Baseball Classic quickly dissipated Wednesday night as Clovis coasted to an 8-0 win over Edison in the championship at Clovis West’s Stan Bledsoe Field.
Chet Allison, who had pitched only six innings coming in, equaled that work total while giving up one hit and striking out eight, and Jeremy Garcia delivered three hits and two RBIs and dazzled defensively as the Cougars improved to 16-0 with their third consecutive Classic title and ninth overall.
Edison (7-8) played not one senior, made four errors and simply looked out of its league against a Clovis team ranked second by The Fresno Bee in the Central Section and Nos. 6 and 7 nationally by USA Today and MaxPreps.
The Cougars return to the boiler called the Tri-River Athletic Conference next week when they visit section No. 3 Clovis North (11-2-1). Clovis defeated the visiting Broncos 2-1 in the Coca Cola Classic on March 4.
“The TRAC, here it comes; that’s where the real ball starts right now,” said Garcia, a senior who hit .533 in the Classic (8 for 15) with three doubles, six RBIs and eight runs while sharing the tournament MVP award with Reedley’s Michael Warkentin and Edison’s Eric Romero. “We’re feeling good, playing with a lot of confidence and will try to keep it going, but the TRAC’s tough.”
Edison’s bizarre season has reflected on its youth. The Tigers started 3-0 and then lost seven in a row before going 4-0 in the Classic’s regular phase. Edison resumes County/Metro Athletic Conference play Wednesday at home against Sanger.
The road to the Classic’s final was unlike few others in its 47-year history.
Clovis, Edison, Buchanan, Reedley and Franklin-Elk Grove all won early games Wednesday to finish 4-0 in the regular phase, which has a predetermined schedule.
Tiebreakers determined the finalists in the 38-team, three-day tournament that drew entrants from Red Bluff to Bakersfield.
The first tiebreaker – fewest runs allowed – had Clovis (seven), Reedley (nine), Edison (nine) and Buchanan (nine) and Franklin (13).
Then, with Clovis in the final, the second tiebreaker – fewest offensive strikeouts – was applied to Edison (21), Reedley (21) and Buchanan (25), eliminating the Bears.
And, finally, the third tiebreaker – fewest defensive walks – decided between Edison (eight) and Reedley (10), eliminating the Pirates.
3 Tiebreakers needed to determine finalists in Fresno Easter Baseball Classic
Franklin of the Sac-Joaquin Section knew before the tournament it would be prohibited from competing in the championship because of a section rule related to total games played in a season. It’s the second time in recent years the clause applied to the Wildcats in the Classic.
Reedley, which won the Classic in 1973, scored four runs in both the fifth and sixth innings to rally past Oakmont-Roseville 8-4 at Bullard High School. But the Pirates gave up a seemingly innocuous run with one out in the top of the seventh on an infield-back groundout that ultimately cost them a berth in the final.
In the first two days of the tournament, Reedley of the North Yosemite League received complete games from pitchers J.T. Gomez, Josh Garcia and Diego Morales while going 3-0.
Clovis throttled Tehachapi 10-0 at home in a morning game as senior left-hander Zac Whittaker (5-0) gave up one hit and struck out 11 in five innings.
5 Wins against no losses by aces Zac Whittaker of Clovis and Grant Gambrell of Buchanan following dominant performances Wednesday morning
Tyson Fraser, a junior center fielder starting for the second year, delivered two hits, three RBIs and two runs against Tehachapi for the Cougars, who are ranked behind Buchanan in the section. The 14-0 Bears are ranked Nos. 4 and 6 nationally by USA Today and MaxPreps.
Buchanan, in a morning home game Wednesday, defeated Hanford 5-1 as Oregon State-bound right-hander Grant Gambrell (5-0) pitched six hitless innings. He was pulled entering the seventh because of pitch-count considerations.
Gambrell, Allison and Buhach Colony freshman Alex Kendrick won Classic Outstanding Pitcher honors.
Edison’s Eddie Rios and Romero pitched the first 4 1/3 innings Wednesday night two days after contributing complete-game wins.
That would not bode well against Clovis, which took a 2-0 first-inning lead on Garcia’s single, a hit by pitch, an error, Allison’s sacrifice fly and Mason Grotto’s RBI single.
Then Garcia and Jace Tietjen each had two-RBI singles in a six-run fifth that removed all doubt.