In addition to overall No. 1 and Division I No. 1 De La Salle of Concord, others that can say they are mythical state champions for 2018 are Santa Margarita of Rancho SM (Division II), Los Banos (D3), Winters (D4) and Rio Hondo Prep of Arcadia (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:
De La Salle (Concord)
The last CIF North Coast Section team to be on top for D1 and State Team of the Year was College Park of Pleasant Hill in 2015. Before that, you have to go back to El Cerrito in 1983. The Spartans also will be highly ranked to start next season. Junior pitcher Kyle Harrison (UCLA commit) is not the only one coming back. Others include junior shortstop Vince Bianchina, sophomore first baseman Blake Burke and junior third baseman Charles McAdoo.
Santa Margarita (Rancho SM)
Yes, the Eagles lost three times in the Trinity League to both Orange Lutheran and JSerra (San Juan Capistrano), but they were a solid third in arguably the best league in the state this season and it would be hard to see if any of the other teams that we had D2 could have done any better. Santa Margarita (26-11) was in D2 in the CIF Southern Section playoffs and won the championship with a 1-0 win in 12 innings over Norco. Matt McClure and Spencer Edwards, two of the team’s top pitchers all season, combined for the shutout. Junior shortstop Milan Tolentino, committed to UCLA and already chosen as the Trinity League MVP, drove in the only run on a sacrifice fly. The CIFSS title was the second in school history and the 26 wins also set a record. And here’s another first: State Team of the Year for the first time. Before playing Norco in that section final, the Eagles beat El Segundo (which was the team that knocked out 25-1 Arcadia) and Redondo Union (which was the team that split with D1 state-ranked Mira Costa late in the season). Oakmont of Roseville (30-3, CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D2 champ) can be considered runner-up.
With Highland of Bakersfield (29-2) sitting in the clubhouse after having a remarkable season of its own, Los Banos could not afford to lose once in the double-elimination SJS D4 playoffs in its attempt to end on top of statewide teams considered Division III. The Tigers didn’t let that happen and concluded a 28-1 season on Monday with a 3-0 shutout win over Central Catholic of Modesto in their section title-clinching win. Max Ramirez led Los Banos with a three-hitter on the mound and he had a two-run double. Head coach Pat Fuentes’ squad also recorded its 13th shutout of the season and it was the 22nd time that the pitching staff gave up one run or less. This is the first section title for the Tigers in baseball since 1994 and it’s the first time in school history they have ended No. 1 in a statewide rankings division. The last time an SJS squad was D3 State Team of the Year was Manteca in 2014.
This group of Warriors wasn’t as dominant as the one last season that went 30-1 and was an easy choice to be D4 State Team of the Year. But guess what? Sometimes, losses elsewhere can greatly alter the final rankings order. Despite some graduation losses, head coach Jeff Ingles’ club still went 24-4 and won another CIF Northern Section D5 title. We had moved up his program from D5 to D4 last year and it didn’t matter. Heading into the section playoffs two weeks ago, we had three teams ranked higher than Winters in D4 (Pasadena Poly, Argonaut of Jackson and Pacific Grove). All three have lost since then. Colfax, the team that ousted Argonaut, might have gotten stronger consideration to move up to the top if it hadn’t lost in one of its games on Monday to Bear River (Lake of the Pines) in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section double-elimination style D5 playoffs. We also have to mention that the CIF North Coast Section D4 playoffs aren’t done yet. That title game on Wednesday involves 22-3 McKinleyville and 22-6 Arcata. It’ll be the fifth meeting of the season between those two squads. We considered not picking the D4 State Team of the Year until that game was complete, but are going to go ahead and give it to Winters. Even if McKinleyville wins, we just like the Warriors’ more varied schedule from outside of its section than McKinleyville. This is the third straight year Winters has been a State Team of Year. Prior to last year in D4, the school was No. 1 in 2017 in D5.
Rio Hondo Prep (Arcadia)
This division wasn’t as tricky as D4 to pick at the top, but it wasn’t easy, either. Heading into Monday, Mariposa County was in the No. 1 position at 24-2, but the Grizzlies lost not once but twice to Waterford and did not win the CIF SJS D6 championship. Previous No. 3 Berean Christian also lost in its section final, so the choice was between previous No. 2 Rio Hondo Prep (Arcadia) and No. 4 Liberty (Madera Ranchos). To have Rio hopped would have taken a more overwhelming argument in Liberty’s favor. Plus, we still like how the Kares (18-7) came through in the CIFSS D6 playoffs after battling in a tough league against Pasadena Poly and Flintridge Sacred Heart (both were in the CIFSS D5 playoffs and both have been state-ranked in D4). In the playoffs, Rio beat St. Genevieve of Panorama City (14-3), Sultana of Hesperia (6-0), Carpintria (6-0), St. Anthony of Long Beach (8-5) and Costa Mesa (9-7). The pitching of senior Evan Foor and sophomore Jack Vancleve basically got hot at the right time. This is the same division that Pasadena Poly was No. 1 in last year and that the Panthers were No. 2 at the end in 2011. Rio Hondo Prep is D5 State Team of the Year for the first time.
Does Fremont Christian get any love? Winning their 1st Section title ever as a 6 seed. Coaches, players. I see Berean Christian was up for it. We have 199 kids and won the D5 title. Also was lucky to have a consensus 1st team all NCS player Bubba Gomez but was still a great accomplishment. Thanks
Just because another school finished No. 1 in that division in the entire state is hardly reason for the “doesn’t get any love” comment. We wrote up Bubba many times, photos, player of the week for NorCal I believe once plus more.