The Gregori High baseball team dominated the Modesto Metro Conference on the diamond and in private conversations amongst its coaches.
For the second consecutive season, Matt Dallas is the MVP of the Modesto Metro Conference, a league saturated with individual talent.
Dallas did it all in his senior season, ranking among the Sac-Joaquin Section’s best in hitting and pitching. He batted .511 with 46 hits, 35 runs, 27 RBI and 15 extra-base hits. He was 8-0 on the mound with a sub-1.00 ERA, and in between starts, he handled a staff that was 18-1 in the regular season.
Never without a smile, Dallas, bound for Stanislaus State, epitomized the spirit of a team that won all 18 of its league games, began the season 26-0 and reached the semifinal round of the Division I South Tournament.
Coach Jim Davis often praised the Jaguars not for the final scoreboard, but honoring the game and one another. They were a selfless bunch led by a take-charge senior class, most with a college commitment.
Those seniors were rewarded for their performance at the year-end coaches meeting.
Outfielder Jimmy McClenaghan was named the Offensive Player of the Year. He flourished under hitting coach Justin Hardin, honing his approach and swing. McClenaghan hit .486, second only to Dallas, with a team-high 31 RBI. He had 36 hits, 25 runs and eight doubles, capping a three-year varsity career with his first major award.
He plans to attend Delta College in the fall.
He was joined on the first team by senior outfielders Tyler Vandemark (Willamette, .420, 10 stolen bases) and Brandon Green (Sonoma State, .348, nine doubles), senior shortstop Zach McCoy (Dubuque, .431, 27 runs), and junior corner infielders Colton MacCaughtry (.387, 28 RBI) and Branden Pasion (.343, seven doubles).
Senior starter A.J. MacCaughtry (Masters, 9-3, four complete games) was also a first-team selection, while budding junior ace Julian Favela was named the Pitcher of the Year. In his first varsity season, Favela was nearly untouchable. He was 9-0 on the season, yielding just three earned runs in nine starts.
In all, Gregori received six of the 11 first-team slots and three individual awards, including Coach of the Year.
Enochs centerfielder Chris Butterfield (.354, four home runs, two errors) repeated as the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Downey clinched its first postseason berth in six years with a dramatic late-season push, overtaking Enochs and Modesto in the weeks. The Knights were rewarded with two first-team selections: utility player Brett Neves (.290, two home runs, 5-2 in 10 appearances), a senior shortstop/pitcher; and junior catcher Zac Cooper (.292, five doubles).
Runner-up Beyer, bumped off its throne for the first time in two years, received three first-team picks. Seniors Chase Fetzer and Trevor Ravelli led the charge The 6-foot-5 Fetzer (.365 average, 4-4 in nine appearances) emerged as a frontline starter, while Ravelli (.325, 25 hits) was one of the toughest outs in the MMC.
Junior third baseman T.J. Wheeler (.333, nine extra-base hits) was also named to the first team.
Wheeler, Cooper, Favela, Pasion and Colton MacCaughtry are part of a rich crop of players set to return in 2018. Eight of the nine second-team selections are either sophomores or juniors, including: Gregori junior infielder Nick Urrutia; Modesto junior pitcher Tyler Shafer; Enochs sophomore catcher Jon Silva; Modesto sophomore infielder R.J. Soria; Enochs sophomore Camron Mercurio; Modesto junior infielder Carlos Castillo; Modesto sophomore outfielder Evan Klump; and Beyer junior outfielder Ben Polack.
Johansen outfielder Isaac Smith was the lone senior of the second team.
Earning an honorable mention were: Beyer senior Josh Escobar; Davis junior Joey Gulley; Downey senior Zach Cruz; Enochs senior Travis Graham; Gregori senior Austin Turley; Johansen sophomore Vincent Ford; and Modesto senior Trae Nichols.