For the Sierra College baseball team, the real season begins Friday, May 3, when the second-seeded Wolverines host the #17 College of the Sequoias Giants at the Wolverine Baseball Complex in the opening round of the California Community Colleges Athletic Association (CCCAA) NorCal playoffs. First pitch is slated for 2:30pm Friday.
The winner of the three-game series, which concludes Saturday, May 4, advances to the Super Regionals May 10-12. The Super Regional champions, two from both the north and the south, will then meet in Fresno, May 17-19 in the CCCAA state championship tournament.
The Wolverines, who clinched a tie for the 2013 Big 8 Conference title with a 5-4 win over Sacramento City College on the final day of the regular season April 26, are hungry to return to the state championships, where in Bakersfield in 2012, they finished third.
Coach Ryan Evangelho’s Wolverines (29-7) boast a deep, talented pitching staff, an opportunistic offense and a stingy, efficient defense. Ten Sierra players made the All-Big 8 first and second teams, paced by Pitcher of the Year Andrew Cooper and pro prospect Blake Grant-Parks.
Sophomore Cooper finished the regular season 12-1, with a 1.91 ERA and a team-high 50 strikeouts in 84.2 innings pitched. Ace closer Kea Vierra joined Cooper on the All-Big 8 first team. The freshman reliever picked up a Big 8-best 13 saves in 23 appearances. His 1.61 ERA led the Sierra staff.
Grant-Parks was one of four Sierra position players on the All-Big 8 first team. The sophomore catcher topped the Wolverines with five homers, to lead the Big 8, 25 RBI and a .516 slugging percentage. He also had 41 hits, eight doubles and a .331 batting average.
Joining Grant-Parks on the first team were sophomore second baseman Nick Blaser, who led the Big 8 with a .397 batting average, sophomore shortstop Jake Riffice, and sophomore outfielder Jared Snow.
One Sierra sophomore and three freshmen garnered All-Big 8 second team nods: starting pitchers Matt Fielding (sophomore, 5-3) and Devon Golden (5-0), outfielder Dalton Blaser (Nick’s brother), and third baseman Dustin Vaught.
The Giants (20-17) finished third in the Central Valley Conference. Coach Jody Allen’s team is led by freshman infielder Ross Feeley (.367 BA) and sophomore pitcher Leland Tilley (7-3).