Gregori, Enochs take aim at MMC baseball crown

jcortez@modbee.comApril 14, 2014 

Regardless of the outcome of this week’s home-and-home baseball series between Gregori and Enochs high schools, both are a good bet to reach the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

The teams share the lead in the Modesto Metro Conference standings with matching 7-1 league records, 2½ games clear of Beyer and Modesto.

But Enochs coach Chris Butterfield isn’t thinking about the playoffs just yet.

“It’s about school pride and playing for an MMC title,” said Butterfield, whose Eagles play host to the Jaguars today at 3:45 p.m. “It’s not a must-win, but it’s just shy of that if it’s not a must-win.”

To be sure, the loser of today’s game could come back and win on Thursday, putting the teams right back where they started – tied atop the conference standings.

Thursday’s game is really the most important. Today’s loser will be desperate to hold serve come Thursday, while today’s winner will be looking to put a stranglehold on the league’s No. 1 playoff seed.

The top three finishers in the MMC advance to the postseason, which gets underway May 12.

“After we play this week, we only have two league games left,” said Gregori coach Rob Steves, pointing out that the Jags and Eagles don’t have much time to make a big move in the standings. “There’s no doubt about it … these are two 7-1 teams that are playing for something.

“Hopefully, it’s two good games.”

Gregori plans to start Todd Stewart – “Our regular Tuesday guy,” as Steves calls him – and Jeff Gray on Thursday. In league play, the left-handed Stewart is 2-0 with a 0.34 ERA and 16 strikeouts and five walks in 20 1/3 innings pitched. Gray is 4-0 in MMC action, with a 2.33 ERA and 23 strikeouts and eight walks in 21 innings of work.

Butterfield is undecided on today’s starter, but he’s penciled in sophomore right-hander C.J. Hackett to take the bump on Thursday.

Hackett is 3-0 in league with a 1.40 ERA.

Already this season, Hackett’s been the winner in two gut-check games – a 1-0 win over Beyer and 2-1 win over Downey.

“C.J.’s a guy that can be a bulldog for us,” said Butterfield. “He’s growing up quickly on the varsity mound. He wants the ball.”

Bee staff writer Joe Cortez can be reached at jcortez@modbee.com or (209) 578-2380. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeePreps.

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