Cal-Hi Sports Insider Blog

Quick-hitting, behind-the-scenes news and notes from the CalHiSports.com staff, including previews of upcoming content and events.

Tom Brady As A Role Model

(Written by Tommy Pendleton)
When you talk about sporting greats from California, Serra High of San Mateo grad Tom Brady is a name that pretty much everyone will mention to you. For many years now, the New England Patriots’ quarterback has been idolized by his many adoring fans in New England and across the nation.
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Baseball: No. 1 tops No. 2

It’s another memorable week for the Valley Christian of San Jose baseball team. The Warriors, ranked No. 1 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20, used one big inning to beat No. 2 Bellarmine of San Jose 5-2 on Friday afternoon on their home field. This came three days after one of their pitchers struck out 18 batters in a no-hitter.

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If there’s a coach who understands the big picture of a high school baseball season, it’s John Diatte, the longtime leader of the program at Valley Christian of San Jose. He takes things one week at a time and knows that the ultimate objective is to win the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division championship.

Valley Christian sophomore Eddie Park, who has committed to Stanford, was the CCS Freshman of the Year last season. Photo: Mark Tennis.


“Everybody knows where we’re ranked,” said Diatte after his team dispatched Bellarmine of San Jose 5-2 on Friday in a West Catholic Athletic League matchup that brought together a rare No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle of state-ranked squads. “But I’ve watched plenty of teams over the years ranked high all season that don’t win their last game. Our goal is just to make sure we’re in the best position we can be to win that last game.”

The Warriors (18-1-1) and Bells both did their part to set up Friday’s showdown in the last two weeks. Valley Christian went to the Hard 9 National Classic in Southern California and won the title with a 2-1 win in the final against Mission Viejo. Bellarmine (16-3), which earlier this season swept a doubleheader against Huntington Beach (one of the top teams in Southern California), won the NorCal portion of the Boras Classic and will later play JSerra of San Juan Capistrano for the Boras Classic state title.

Valley Christian also put itself in a strong position to win Friday’s game in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore Eddie Park and Nick Marincoz got the rally going with leadoff singles. With one out, Steven Zobac then plated the first run of the game with an RBI single that scored Park. After a strikeout, the Warriors did something amazing by scoring four more runs in the inning on five straight first-pitch singles.

One of those RBI singles came on a perfectly-executed bunt by Jack McGrew. The others were on straight singles from Ryan Belluomini, Zach Barnao and Park. Another single in the uprising that loaded the bases but didn’t score a run came from leadoff hitter Coleman Brigman.

The Bells, who were mysteriously ranked higher than Valley Christian in one national poll (MaxPreps), began to scratch into that lead in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Kyle Rauscher. Then in the top of the fifth, Connor Henriques hit a pop up not far behind third base with two runners on base that was misplayed by three Valley Christian fielders into a double, allowing one run to score. With runners at second and third and two outs, however, Bellarmine couldn’t get closer as Valley Christian’s second pitcher of the game, William Kempner, got a groundout from the Bells’ Wes Harper. Valley Christian started with senior Kevin Pence on the mound.

For the top of the sixth and top of the seventh, the Bells faced Park, a two-way standout who was MVP of the Hard 9 National Classic. They didn’t score and Park struck out two of the three batters he faced in the top of the seventh.

“We know that the seniors want to repeat (as the CCS Open champion),” Park said. “But I came to the school in my mind to win four in a row. With the young players we have and the guys in my (sophomore) class, I know we’re capable of that.”

One complicating factor for both Valley Christian and Bellarmine is that the CCS Open Division this year will consist of an eight-team bracket and not 16 teams. Plus, according to section bylaws, league champions from as many as six “A” leagues will be automatic qualifiers for that Open Division.

“If there’s one league with a co-champion then that would take away another spot and if there’s another league after that then it could be down to zero spots,” Diatte explained. “To win the Open, you’ve really got to win your league.”

It’s another complicated process from the one CIF section in the state that is the king of complicated playoff processes, but Diatte said at least all of the teams know what they have to do before the season starts.

In the WCAL, which is one top league in the state that still doesn’t have teams play a series against each other one week at a time, there also is a league playoff tournament held once every team has played each other twice. The WCAL didn’t have those tournaments in other sports this school year, but will have one in baseball this year. It often happens that the regular season champion doesn’t win the league tourney. If that were to happen this year, both teams would qualify for the CCS Open Division. And if there are more than eight league champions or co-champions eligible for the CCS Open Division, a playoff points system would be used to pick the top eight teams.

Valley Christian improved to 6-1 in league with the win, but the Bells fell to 4-3. They haven’t actually lost outside of the WCAL all season long, which has contributed to their lofty rankings. The team that is tied with the Warriors at 6-1 is Archbishop Mitty, which also won twice this week and could move up into the top five of the state rankings itself next week. Those teams will play next Saturday. Valley Christian returns to action Tuesday at home against Serra of San Mateo and will be looking to avenge its only loss. The Padres won 3-2 in the Warriors’ second league game.

Senior Patrick Wicklander is expected to take the mound for Valley Christian in the next Tuesday game. He pitched last Tuesday at Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco and finished with 18 strikeouts in a no-hitter. He wasn’t available for Friday’s game and in fact nearly reached his pitching count limit in the no-hitter.

“We all got a lot closer after that trip to Southern California,” Park said. “I was in left field for (Patrick’s game) and got to basically stand there and watch it. It was awesome. I was happy for him.”

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


CIF Central Sec: Hit by pitch 4 times

Here’s some record updates and highlights of top coaches, players & teams from the past week as reported to us from CIF Central Section historian Bob Barnett of Fresno. Bob has done phenomenal work on behalf of CIF Central Section schools, athletes and coaches for more than 40 years.
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Baseball: 18 strikeouts in no-hitter

Patrick Wicklander from Valley Christian of San Jose, which just this week ascended to No. 1 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20 baseball rankings, led the team to 7-0 win over Archbishop Riordan of San Francisco on Tuesday with a no-hitter. And it wasn’t just any no-hitter, either.

In Wicklander’s no-hitter, he struck out 18 of the 23 batters he faced. He walked one and another runner reached base on an error.

There is no category in the Cal-Hi Sports state records for most strikeouts in a no-hitter but there is a category for most strikeouts in a seven-inning game. And in that category there are notations for those players who threw no-hitters.

The record would be 21 by two players. Eddie Gordon from Alhambra of Martinez, who had his 21-strikeout no-hitter in 1969 in a 4-0 victory against Las Lomas of Walnut Creek, would be the first. That achievement was duplicated in 2008 by Michael Fagan of San Diego Jewish Academy in a 5-0 win over San Diego Midway Baptist.

We also have notations for two other players with 20 strikeouts in a no-hitter. The first of those was by Bob Flynn of El Segundo in 1960 when the Eagles blanked St. John Vianney of Los Angeles 4-0. The second was by Steve Young from Amador of Sutter Creek in 1982 when the Buffaloes topped Calaveras of San Andreas 2-0.

Wicklander, who has signed with Arkansas, pitched a no-hitter earlier this season and may have set a record of some kind since it was a game that ended in a tie. In that game, he struck out 12 and gave up no hits in eight innings, but Elk Grove’s pitchers didn’t allow any runs and the two teams headed home with a 0-0 tie. Elk Grove, like Valley Christian, was expected to have one of the state’s best teams this season so Wicklander’s earlier outing in that game, even though he didn’t strike out as many, was arguably even more impressive than what he did against Riordan.

More details about the no-hitter this week were reported on Thursday morning by Archbishop Riordan and WCAL stat whiz Patrick Segurson. Wicklander struck out the first two batters he faced after VC already had taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. The third batter walked on an eight-pitch sequence. Wicklander then struck out the next eight batters in a row. That was followed by a grounder to Wicklander in which the throw to first pulled the first baseman off the bag for an error. The next batter grounded out and then the next seven were struck out. In the bottom of the seventh, the first two Riordan batters flied out. The final hitter struck out. Matt Calhoun of Riordan walked, hit the ball that was the error and flied out.

Valley Christian plays next on Friday at home against Bellarmine of San Jose, which moved up to No. 2 in the state this week and won its game on Tuesday 4-0 over Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco.


All-State Patches For Basketball

For the 2017-18 school year, for the first time, those selected for the annual Cal-Hi Sports All-State Teams in football were able to purchase patches with a certificate to commemorate the achievement. Thanks to our partners at BillyTees.com, we are proud to announce that the program was successful enough in football so that we will be offering it for the upcoming All-State teams in boys and girls basketball.
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CIF Central Sec: Staying hot in Exeter

Here’s some record updates and highlights of top coaches, players & teams from the past week as reported to us from CIF Central Section historian Bob Barnett of Fresno. Bob has done phenomenal work on behalf of CIF Central Section schools, athletes and coaches for more than 40 years.
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Winter/Spring Spirit of Sport Winners

Student athletes from San Diego, Los Angeles, El Dorado and Santa Cruz counties were named earlier this week by the CIF as honorees of the prestigious CIF Spirit of Sport Award for the 2018 Winter and Spring quarters respectively. Read more…


Jordan Brown: 26 pts in MCDAAG

The output of former Woodcreek High (Roseville) standout Jordan Brown during Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American Game in Atlanta had us checking the record books for the most points scored by a California player in the prestigious event.
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CIF Central Sec: Sierra Pacific Salute

Here’s some record updates and highlights of top coaches, players & teams from the past week as reported to us from CIF Central Section historian Bob Barnett of Fresno. Bob has done phenomenal work on behalf of CIF Central Section schools, athletes and coaches for more than 40 years.
Read more…


CIF Central Sec: Hoop wrap & softball

Here’s some record updates and highlights of top coaches, players & teams from the past two weeks as reported to us from CIF Central Section historian Bob Barnett of Fresno. Bob has done phenomenal work on behalf of CIF Central Section schools, athletes and coaches for more than 40 years.
Read more…


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