Ohlone, Riverside City, Palomar and host Folsom Lake converge to crown CCCAA baseball champion beginning Saturday

CCCAA Baesball Championship
CCCAA Baesball Championship

Tournament Central (brackets, live stats, photos, recaps, live video)

FOLSOM - The quest for the state baseball crown has now been whittled down to four teams and this weekend, Palomar, Ohlone, Riverside and Folsom Lake will battle it out at the 2022 California Community College Athletic Association Baseball State Championships, set for May 28-30 at Folsom Lake College.

The four-team, double-elimination championship kicks off on Friday when Northern California’s top seed, Ohlone College (44-4), hosts Southern California’s No. 2 seed, Palomar College (37-11), at 12 p.m. In the nightcap, the south’s top seed, Riverside City College (35-12) plays host to the host school, Folsom Lake (38-6-1) at 6 p.m.

The loser of Friday’s doubleheader will play at 10 a.m. in an elimination game, while the winners of Friday’s DH play at 2 p.m. for a spot in the championship finals. The championship game will take place on Monday at 11 a.m. and if a second game is needed, that will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of that game.

Here is a brief recap of each team …

OHLONE COLLEGE RENEGADES (44-4 overall, Northern California No. 1 Seed) – Ohlone entered the 2022 playoffs with an incredible 36-game win streak, but the Renegades were quickly brought down from the clouds with a pair of tough three-game series wins over the College of Marin (3-5, 11-9, 5-4) and Los Medanos (20-7, 6-14, 4-3) with both of those Game 3 wins coming in extra innings. It was a bit smoother weekend in the sectionals when Ohlone rolled past Feather River 17-13 and 14-1 to return to the State Final Four for the first time since 2017. It’s the Renegades’ fifth Final Four appearance as they look for their second state title in program history (2010).

Ohlone enters this weekend second in the state in runs scored (485) and first in the state in doubles (130), home runs (57) and stolen bases (155).  This barrage of offensive success begins and ends with freshman third baseman Jeter Ybarra, who is the state leader in hits (87), doubles (24), hit-by-pitch (117), RBI (71) and is second in batting average (.451). There are plenty of video game-type stats for the Renegades up and down the lineup, including Mykanthony Valdez (.330, 12 HR, 52 RBI), Jaden Sheppard (.323, 60 hits, 21 doubles, 44 RBI) and Damian Stone (.331, 57 hits, 7 HR, 39 RBI, state-best 50 stolen bases.

On the mound, Ohlone is fourth in the state with a 3.77 team ERA, with a trio of starters anchoring the staff. Sophomore Max Gonzales is 11-0 with a 3.32 ERA, allowing 29 earned runs over 78 2/3 innings with 60 strikeouts. His 11 wins is tied for second-most among all CCCAA pitchers. Ohlone’s ERA leader is sophomore Sean Fekete (8-1, two saves, 2.38 ERA), while freshman starter Ethan Foley (8-2, 3.38 ERA) leads the team in innings pitched (80) and strikeouts (89). Relievers Ethan Shaver, Cade Castillo and Manato Tateno are a combined 13-1 with nine saves and 105 strikeouts over 115 1/3 innings of work.

FOLSOM LAKE COLLEGE FALCONS (38-6-1, Northern California No. 2 Seed) – Talk about the PERFECT time to earn your first-ever trip to the State Final Four. What the Falcons lose this year in frequent flyer mileage by hosting this year’s event, they will make up in some serious home cooking in the biggest weekend of baseball the program has ever experienced. Winners of 16 straight entering the weekend, Folsom Lake rolled through the postseason with sweeps over West Valley (15-7, 7-6), Butte (13-2, 7-4) and San Joaquin Delta (5-4, 4-3).

The top of the Falcons’ order is paced by sophomore Jared Breedwell (.351, 61 hits, 55 runs, 15 stolen bases) and Jeff Bauser (.303, 47 hits, 50 runs, 15 stolen bases) with JT Waldon (.385, 65 hits, 7 HR, 58 RBI) and Logan Sutter (.306, 53 hits, 7 HR, 53 RBI) anchoring the heart of the lineup.

The Falcons have the Final Four’s top rotation on paper with a team ERA of 3.51 (second-best in the state). Sophomore lefty Sky Wells leads the state in wins with 12 and is 12-1 with a 2.06 ERA, striking out 84 batters in just 74 1/3 innings. Close behind Wells are freshmen righties Gavin Ochoa (6-1, 2.78 ERA, 73 Ks over 87 1/3 innings) and Carter Delaney (8-2, 4.08 ERA, 69 Ks in 70 2/3 innings). If Folsom has the lead late, expect to see closer Cole Tremain, who is 3-1 with 11 saves and a 2.25 ERA with 35 strikeouts over 28 innings. His 11 saves are second-most among all CCCAA relievers this year.

RIVERSIDE CITY COLLEGE TIGERS (35-12, Southern California No. 1 Seed) – The team with the most state championship hardware among the four remaining teams, the Tigers return to the Final Four for the first time since 2008 and will battle for their fifth state championship in school history and their first since 2007. Winners of 16 of their last 18 games, the Tigers swept Grossmont (12-9, 9-5) and outlasted Orange Empire Conference rival Cypress in three games (6-4, 5-18, 10-5) before sweeping past No. 2-seed Glendale (6-4, 14-2) to earn the top seed in Southern California.

Riverside enters the tournament with the lowest team batting average among the four teams remaining (.299), but nobody can take this lineup for granted. Freshman outfielder and conference MVP, Matthew Bardowell enters the Final Four with a .441 average with 71 hits, 7 HR and 58 RBI. His 22 doubles are second-most in the state, as is his .758 slugging percentage. Ignacio Alvarez has been on the tail end of most of Bardowell’s success with a team-best 53 runs scored to go along with 63 hits, 5 HR and 42 RBI.

Playing one of the toughest schedules in all of California Community College baseball, the RCC pitchers have seen the best of the best so ignore the 4.38 team ERA. Freshman righty David Butler has been solid for RCC with an 8-0 record and a 3.74 ERA, while Giancarlo Flores is right behind his teammate in ERA (3.77) and is 4-4 with a team-best 67 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings. Top relievers for the Tigers are Hayden Coon (3-2, three saves, 3.11 ERA), Jon Mocherman (4-2, one save, 45 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings) and Ryan Hernandez (4-0, one save, 2.04 ERA, 39 Ks in 35 1/3 IP).

PALOMAR COLLEGE COMETS (37-11, Southern California No. 2 Seed) – The inspired Comet baseball team has been playing the 2022 season with heavy hearts following the death of their longtime, hall of fame head coach and assistant coach, Bob Vetter, who passed away in late January at the age of 71. Winners of 19-of-21 heading into this weekend, the Comets won a pair of Game 3s against Pasadena City (11-4, 7-9, 17-4) and Santa Ana (10-9, 9-13, 17-9) before upsetting SoCal’s top-seeded Saddleback (8-5, 10-5) last week. Palomar returns to the State Final Four for the first time since 2015 and will be looking for its first baseball state title in school history.

Palomar’s offense – tops in the state with a .362 team batting average and 660 hits (94 more than runner-up Saddleback) -- has been averaging over 11 runs per game in the postseason and has been led all year by catcher Devlin Lindeman. The freshman standout has a .367 average with 66 hits, 64 runs (2nd-most in the state), 15 HR (tops in the state) and 63 RBI (2nd-most in the state). Lindeman’s stats are just one of several impressive numbers up and down the Palomar lineup. Jack Sanders leads the state with a .468 average and is second in the state with 81 hits to go along with 7 HR and 44 RBI. Quincy Scott has a .400 average with 76 hits and 52 RBI), while Bryson Hashimoto has 74 hits, 5 HR, 40 RBI and a .392 average.

Enjoy the fruits of the offensive success has been the starting pitching trio of Logan Parker, Dylan Delvecchio and Ethan Sally. Parker is a workhorse with a 10-2 record and a 3.81 ERA, with 84 strikeouts over 101 2/3 innings (2nd-most in the state). Delvecchio has racked up an 8-1 record with a 3.25 ERA and 107 Ks (2nd-most in the state) over 88 2/3 innings. Closer Austin Schroeder is tied for the state lead with 12 saves this year and has struck out 31 batters in just 24 innings of work.

(Tony Altobelli, CCCSIA)