It’s now official for College Park of Pleasant Hill (Division II), Manteca (Division III), Santa Ynez (Division IV) and Minaret’s (Division V) in addition to Clovis for overall and Division I.
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With the No. 1 teams from the most recent state rankings in Division II, Division III and Division V done for the season, the only real remaining No. 1 race to be decided for a mythical state title heading into last weekend was in Division IV.
It wasn’t a difficult choice to name Santa Ynez as the top team for the division after the Pirates finished 29-1, but it also wouldn’t have taken much for Sutter and not Santa Ynez to end No. 1.
Sutter ended its season on May 24 at 27-2 by winning the CIF Northern Section Division II title. The Huskies needed help to move up from No. 4 and they almost got all of it from Village Christian of Sun Valley. Village Christian defeated Tahquitz of Hemet (25-2 at the time) in the CIF Southern Section Division V playoffs and then in last week’s semifinals topped previous No. 2 Oak Hills of Hesperia.
In Saturday’s final at UC Riverside, however, Village Christian’s run of upsets was stopped by Santa Ynez. Coach Warren Dickey’s squad blanked the Crusaders 2-0 on a three-hitter with six strikeouts by junior ace Zachary Torra. Jacob Pritchard and Colby Barrick also came through for the Pirates with RBI singles.
The only loss suffered by Santa Ynez, which won its first CIFSS title, was to San Leandro at the San Luis Obispo Easter tourney. San Leandro eventually played in the CIF North Coast Section Division I quarterfinals.
Here’s more on each of the five divisional State Teams of the Year in baseball:
Since the late 1950s, the CIF Central Section teams have been very strong on the statewide scene and that continued this season with the Cougars. Not only is it the third No. 1 finish for them, but since Fresno High’s legendary 1957-58 teams (the 1958 team has been called the greatest in state history), teams from the region have been No. 1 in 1960, 1968, 1979, 1980, 1988, 1989, 1993 and 2011. Clovis still needs one more No. 1 final ranking to tie Bullard of Fresno, which was tops in the state four times (1980, 1988-89, 1993) under legendary coach Mike Noakes.
College Park (27-3)
This is actually the third year in a row that a team from the CIF North Coast Section is ending the season with top honors in Division II. Both for last year and the previous year (2012) the mythical state champ was Campolindo of Moraga. The Falcons of Pleasant Hill are collecting their first No. 1 state finish. They didn’t beat Campolindo in the section playoffs (Casa Grande took care of that in the opening round) but it probably wouldn’t have mattered. The underclass-dominated Falcons won their playoff games 8-1, 6-0, 9-0 and 7-2 in the final over Marin Catholic.
Following a football season that saw the Buffaloes get to the CIF NorCal D2 bowl game, they were stellar on the diamond. Manteca won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D4 title (which is D3 for our state rankings) behind University of Oregon-bound pitcher Jacob Corn. It’s been awhile since a Sac-Joaquin school has been named Division III State Team of the Year. The last time it happened was in 1992 for Mesa Verde of Citrus Heights. This is Manteca’s first top statewide finish in the 35-plus years of the Cal-Hi Sports baseball rankings.
Santa Ynez (29-1)
This division is used to having teams with great records get chosen No. 1 in the state. Last year, Pacific Grove set the all-time NorCal record at 31-0 while the year before that Escalon was on top at 27-1-1. The last time a team from the Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo region ended No. 1 was another all-time great small school team, St. Joseph of Santa Maria, which went 29-0 in 1997. That’s also the team that was coached by Dave Brunell, the longtime A.D. at St. Joseph and father of NFL QB Mark Brunell. With its only loss to a D1 school, it’s certainly justified to compare this group of Pirates to any other great teams we’ve ever followed in this division.
Minarets of O’Neals (29-5)
We won’t say who, but we did get some emails from a couple of coaches who said they saw both Minarets and No. 2 Head-Royce of Oakland (20-4) play in person and that they believe Head-Royce was the superior team. That may be true, but there is no other evidence that is strong enough for the final No. 1 honor in Division V to change. In short, unless there was some missing info that we didn’t have that demands a change, a final ranking is just not going to flip two weeks later. Minarets, which won the CIF Central Section Division VI title and had wins over a number of large schools, is a first-time mythical state champ. The last No. 1 team in D5 baseball from the section was Fowler in 2007 and 2008. Fowler, which went 1-1 against Minarets this season, is now classified Division IV.