We’ll have a separate post coming on Friday containing the actual all-decade all-state baseball teams for the 2010s, but for this first announcement we’re taking care of the major awards: State Player of the Decade, State Coach of the Decade, State Team of the Decade and State Game of the Decade. Clovis schools have captured two of them with James Patrick of Clovis High as State Coach of the Decade and Buchanan High 2016 as State Team of the Decade. Player of the Decade goes to one of the best pitchers in the National League for 2019 and someone who put up freaky totals as a high schooler at Harvard-Westlake (Studio City).
More All-State All-Decade Teams for 2010s: Softball | Boys Basketball | Girls Basketball | Football (three of those still to come)
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CAL-HI SPORTS BASEBALL
STATE PLAYER OF THE DECADE:
Jack Flaherty (Harvard-Westlake, Studio City)
California had three No. 1 overall picks in the MLB Draft during the decade — Brady Aiken, Mickey Moniak and Royce Lewis — but Flaherty had the best combination of being on championship teams mixed with hard-to-believe individual totals and he’s already become one of the best pitchers in the National League.
When Flaherty was a sophomore, Harvard-Westlake already had two of the best pitchers in the nation with Max Fried and Lucas Giolito except that Giolito was out for that season with an injury.
After they left, to say that Flaherty took over as the ace of the Wolverines might be an understatement. In the 2013 season, he led Harvard-Westlake to the CIF Southern Section Division I championship. We saw him throw a shutout and drive in the only run of the game at Dodger Stadium in a 1-0 triumph over Marina of Huntington Beach.
For that junior season, Flaherty ended 13-0 on the mound with a 0.63 ERA, 112 strikeouts in 80 innings and just 10 walks allowed. He also played third base when not pitching and hit .360 with 31 runs and he even stole 13 bases. Despite being a junior, he was named the Mr. Baseball State Player of the Year, becoming the first junior to do that since 2002.
As a senior, individually, Flaherty was just about as impressive. Harvard-Westlake didn’t win the CIFSS title, however, and he was edged out by Aiken as Mr. Baseball. Still, he went 10-0 on the mound with another 0.63 ERA, 125 strikeouts and 12 walks in 78 innings and he batted .280 with 18 RBI. He also was a first round MLB Draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals.
If you can do math, in the last two seasons of his prep career, Flaherty finished 23-0 with 0.63 ERA and with 237 strikeouts (22 walks) and all that while facing some of the toughest competition in the nation.
It hasn’t taken long for the powerful 6-foot-4 right-hander to become one of the top young pitchers in baseball, either. He debuted in 2017 for the Cardinals and then last season he was their No. 1 pitcher with an 11-8 record, 2.75 ERA and 231 strikeouts. He was fourth in the National League for lowest ERA and was sixth for most strikeouts. He also led the league in a couple of categories, including lowest hits allowed per nine innings.
CAL-HI SPORTS BASEBALL
STATE COACH OF THE DECADE:
James Patrick (Clovis)
Maybe this is a sentimental choice since Coach Patrick just retired from coaching last May after the Cougars won another CIF Central Section title in his final season, but it also was quite a decade for him.
In 2014, Patrick’s team finished No. 1 in the state and was State Team of the Year for the third time since he began head coaching the Cougars in 1988. Those first two in 1997 and 1998 also were No. 1 in the nation. Then in 2017, he became the all-time leader for coaching wins in the CIF Central Section, according to section historian Bob Barnett. And then in 2019 in his final season, Clovis was a surprise winner in the Division I section championship. The Cougars couldn’t beat league rival Buchanan in the regular season, but after Buchanan was knocked out of the bracket with an upset, they went on a roll. Clovis defeated Frontier of Bakersfield 14-3 and Patrick had won his 10th section championship to go with 13 league crowns.
Since beginning his career at Kerman and San Joaquin Memorial (Fresno), Patrick had a 35-year head coaching career. He’d been at Clovis since 1988 and his final career record of 757-272-3 stands at sixth best in state history heading into next season (according to our own Cal-Hi Sports state records). He was able to enjoy coaching against sons Kevin Patrick (Clovis West) and Chris Patrick (Clovis North) and will be succeeded at Clovis by Chris, who was an assistant coach for the Cougars last season.
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STATE TEAM OF THE DECADE:
Buchanan (Clovis) 2016
Among the 10 teams that ended the season as State Team of the Year for California between 2010 and 2019, it wasn’t just the fact that this Buchanan team had the best record at 30-1 that caused us to select the Bears for this honor. If we had to choose, they also were the best team we saw during those years with a tremendous combination of pitching, a deep hitting lineup and defense (especially up the middle). We saw title games in the Southern, Central Coast, North Coast and Sac-Joaquin sections during those years as well.
As the Bears were concluding the season, many local observers (along with head coach Tom Donald) were comparing their 2016 squad to the one from 2011 that was 30-2 and was No. 1 in the final ESPN/RISE FAB 50 national rankings. Those comparisons were even more favorable for 2016 after that team won its last game with a 4-0 triumph over Clovis for the CIF Central Section D1 title. The team’s only loss was to a Clovis North squad that the Cougars also defeated three times. The 2016 bunch also got a No. 1 national ranking from USA Today.
The leading senior for Buchanan 2016 was pitcher/hitter Grant Gambrell. He went 12-0 on the mound with a 0.69 ERA while at the plate he batted .363 with five homers and 35 RBI. Gambrell would later stand out at Oregon State and was taken in last June’s MLB Draft. Fellow senior J.T. Arruda (Fresno State) was another of the teams’ top players. Several of those who were juniors at Buchanan in 2016 are now starring at the NCAA level, including Quentin Selma at Cal, Jamal O’Guinn at USC and Zach Presno at Fresno State.
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STATE GAME OF THE DECADE:
Cypress 1, La Mirada 0 (9)
This wasn’t a section final, but it was a CIF Southern Section Division I playoff semifinal that had plenty of star power and was incredible in that it was tense with scoring chance after scoring chance snuffed out by clutch pitching and defense.
Cypress won it on an RBI double by Peter Werth after a leadoff single by freshman catcher Luke Davis. The Centurions would go on to beat Harvard-Westlake 2-0 in the section final at Dodger Stadium and finished 31-3 under head coach John Weber. They also were one of the top five ranked teams in the nation.
None of that would have happened had Cypress not gotten past La Mirada. State Junior Player of the Year Jared Jones had two hits for the Matadores, but he didn’t pitch. The Matadores still got tremendous pitching from another junior, Michael DeHaro, who shut out Cypress for eight innings despite facing runners on base in numerous innings.
Cameron Repetti and Brett Wozniak did the pitching for Cypress.
We have a feeling that Jones, DeHaro and the rest of La Mirada’s returning players in 2020 will be extremely motivated to not end their season in a similar fashion.