In addition to overall No. 1 and Division I No. 1 Eastlake of Chula Vista, others that can say they are mythical state champions for 2017 are Etiwanda (Division II), Christian Brothers of Sacramento (Division III), Wasco (D4) and Winters (D5).
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Congratulations to these five baseball teams for being added to the list of all-time state teams of the year according to our traditional Cal-Hi Sports five-division format:
Eastlake (Chula Vista)
It may seem to some that the Titans have burst onto the scene only recently, but they’ve been among the top programs in the San Diego Section for nearly 20 years. It’s just been tough for them — until now — to get through the gauntlet of other top programs in the playoffs. In the last two seasons, Eastlake had gone 61-9 and in the last three seasons the record is 87-16.
There was a chance after the Eagles won the CIF Southern Section D2 crown last Friday at Dodger Stadium by virtue of their 2-1 victory vs. Palm Desert that they’d be anointed as State Team of the Year as well. Eastlake needed to lose to Helix on Saturday, though, for that to happen and Eastlake didn’t lose. It’s still a mythical D2 state crown, however, and a 27-3 record. Etiwanda has never been better and this will be the school’s first-ever No. 1 state rankings finish for any division. Two players who completed four-year varsity careers that helped make it all happen were shortstop Tyler Freeman and catcher Chris Jimenez. “We hope to continue to build on what we’ve done,” said head coach Don Furnald, whose team is expected to be in the CIFSS D1 bracket next season. “To get through this playoff has been hard but amazing. Tyler and Chris are two of my most favorite people I’ve ever met in my life. It means a lot that those two got to experience this.”
Christian Brothers (Sacramento)
The Falcons capped a 29-2 season a little more than a week ago when they beat Oakdale 5-2 to win the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D3 title. To get there, they had to bounce back from a 4-1 loss to Manteca earlier in the double-elimination format bracket. They did by beating Manteca a second time 4-3, which set up the one-game championship. Christian Brothers also needed help to finish No. 1 in the state in its division and got it in the CIF North Coast Section Division III final last Saturday when Miramonte of Orinda saw its hopes for an unbeaten season go down in a 5-4 loss to Drake of San Anselmo. Before its loss to Manteca, the Falcons were ranked higher than Miramonte anyway and were in the overall State Top 20. We wouldn’t put them in front of SJS D1 champ Elk Grove for the final rankings, but No. 2 overall in the section wouldn’t be inaccurate. Head coach Rich Henning’s team had wins over D1 teams like Jesuit of Carmichael, Vacaville (actually the No. 1 seed for the D1 bracket) and Bear Creek of Stockton. Pitcher Tanner Cunha ended up 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA and one no-hitter while the team batting average was .398. Among the leading hitters were Michael Ingram (.471), Tyler Stewart (.404, 27 RBI) and Diego Black (.397, 30 RBI). This is the first No. 1 rankings finish in any division for Christian Brothers, but in 1962 it should be mentioned that Bishop Armstrong of Sacramento went 22-2 and is shown as medium schools state team of the year. Bishop Armstrong, which was co-ed, closed in 1968 and Christian Brothers opened in its place (boys only). Christian Brothers itself has been co-ed for many years.
This won’t make up for 2012 in football when the CIF primarily went by our state rankings and recommendations not to choose an unbeaten Wasco team for a CIF bowl game, but it might help. Wasco baseball won its title two weekends ago with a 5-4 triumph over Firebaugh in the CIF Central Section D4 final. Both teams had solid wins over D1 schools and Wasco’s final record of 27-2 also was a bonus. Still, the Tigers didn’t move up to No. 1 until several contenders primarily from the CIF Southern Section were upset. One of Wasco’s losses was to D3 section champ Highland of Bakersfield. The win over Firebaugh, which featured a three-run double in the top of the seventh inning by Lalo Barraza that erased a 4-2 deficit, also broke a 27-year title drought for the school. Wasco’s 22-7 team in 1990, however, was only ranked No. 8 in the final AA state rankings. This is its first No. 1 baseball state rankings finish.
It’s been since May 20 when the Warriors ended their season by winning the CIF Northern Section championship and wrapping up a 24-4-1 record. Heading into that game, we had done a lot of comparing, and declared that if Winters won that it would be ending in this rankings position. Under head coach Jeff Ingles (who has more than 500 wins), the Warriors have been known for playing bigger schools and they did that this year as well. One of those wins was against CIF Northern Section D3 champ Sutter. This is not the first State Team of Year honor for Winters, either. Ingles’ squad in 2003 actually had a better record (25-3) and was No. 1 in a higher division (D4). The last two No. 1 teams in D5 from the CIF Northern Section have been Maxwell (30-0) in 2011 and East Nicolaus (19-2-1) in 1999.