The top seeds took care of business Wednesday in two Central Section baseball playoff semifinal matchups that put marquee Fresno-Clovis programs on display.
In Division I, Clovis West beat visiting No. 5 Buchanan 2-0.
In D-II, San Joaquin Memorial beat visiting No. 4 Fresno 3-1.
The losing sides in those games represent six section championships and two national championships in the last 13 years (Buchanan) and the nation’s second-winningest program all-time (Fresno).
The winners aren’t chopped liver. Clovis West is seeking its second section title when it faces No. 2 Stockdale on Saturday night, and the Golden Eagles have perennially been around the top of the section. Memorial won its most recent title in 2006 under coach Pete Dalena but has been a runner-up four times since and is making a resurgence under former Clovis West star J.D. Salles, in his second season. The Panthers meet No. 2 El Diamante on Friday night.
Once again, all of the section baseball finals will be played at Rawhide Ballpark (home of Visalia’s Class-A Cal League team) – a D-V/D-II doubleheader Friday followed by four games Saturday culminating with the D-I final at 8 p.m.
Four area teams shook up the seedings to reach championship games: No. 6 Immanuel (Division III), No. 4 Fowler (D-IV) and No. 4 Liberty-Madera Ranchos (D-V).
Pitching was the star in Wednesday’s semifinals. Memorial’s Garrett Fuller stopped Fresno with a four-hitter and was backed by Jordan Smith’s RBI, and Clovis West’s Nick Castro and Dusty Schramm combined on a shutout against Buchanan. Clovis West’s Kohl Simas drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.
Anthony Galaviz: @agalaviz_TheBee
Central Section baseball championships
All games at Rawhide Ballpark, Visalia
D-V: No. 2 Arvin vs. No. 4 Liberty-Madera Ranchos, 4 p.m.
D-II: No. 1 Memorial vs. No. 2 El Diamante, 7:30 p.m.
D-IV: No. 2 Exeter vs. No. 4 Fowler, 9:30 a.m.
D-III: No. 1 Garces vs. No. 6 Immanuel, 1 p.m.
D-VI: No. 1 Bishop vs. No. 2 Lindsay, 4:30 p.m.
D-I: No. 1 Clovis West vs. No. 2 Stockdale, 8 p.m.