The Modesto High baseball team clinched its first playoff berth in more than a decade by winning a share of the Modesto Metro Conference title.
The championship snapped a 29-year drought and the Panthers set numerous marks under 13th-year coach Daryl Galloway, including most wins in a season (20).
All of that is fodder, though, as the postseason gets underway next week in seven divisions.
The Sac-Joaquin Section seeding committee wasn’t impressed with Modesto’s historic season, or the MMC for that matter. The No. 11 Panthers open the Division I tournament on Tuesday with a road trip to sixth-seeded Davis of Yolo.
Modesto’s indoctrination to playoff baseball will come fast.
The Blue Devils are a three-time Division I champion, and should the Panthers advance, a potential second-round matchup with 10-time finalist St. Mary’s awaits.
Gregori powered into the Division I South tournament semifinal a season ago behind the 1-2 punch of graduated star Matt Dallas, The Bee’s two-time All-District player of the year, and newcomer Julian Favela, who possesses a rocket arm.
The 13th-seeded Jaguars are back in the tournament, but face an uphill battle. Coach Jim Davis’ club opens at No. 4 Jesuit, a five-time Division I section champion.
Turlock is the only Stanislaus District team to host a Division I first-round game on Tuesday. The Bulldogs welcome Lincoln of Stockton.
MMC co-champion and No. 6 seed Beyer kicks off the Division III tournament with a home game against No. 11 Vista del Lago. A potential showdown with No. 3 Oakdale looms in the second round.
The Patriots and Mustangs competed at the Mark Dickens Memorial Tournament in April, but did not play one another.
Oakdale hosts No. 14 Pacheco.
Here’s a closer look at the section’s baseball brackets:
Division II: Under first-year coach Andy Walker, Pitman has won at least 16 games for the fourth straight season and captured a share of the Central California Conference title. The Pride were rewarded with a No. 5 seed and a first-round home game against Tracy. … No. 7 Buhach Colony also hosts No. 10 Lodi. The Thunder shared the CCC title with Pitman and Turlock. All three teams were 9-3 in conference.
Division III: It’s been a memorable season for No. 5 Sierra. Coach Jack Thomson eclipsed the 600-win mark and is tied with former Escalon coach Bob Loureiro for the Stanislaus District’s most career wins at 604. He can set the record with a win over No. 12 Placer in the first round. … Crosstown rival Manteca also will host a first-round game. The Buffaloes welcome No. 9 American Canyon. No. 4 Los Banos seeks its first section title in 24 years. The Tigers open against No. 13 Pioneer.
Division IV: No. 6 Escalon hosts No. 11 Liberty Ranch, while No. 8 Sonora tangles with No. 9 Livingston in the opening round. The Cougars have won 22 of their 25 games, including five straight after suffering back-to-back losses to Mountain House and Modesto Christian.
Division V: The top half of the bracket has a distinct Stanislaus District flair. No. 1 Linden hosts No. 8 Gustine, while No. 5 Mariposa takes a trip to No. 4 Argonaut. The winners of each matchup play one another in the second round.
Division VI: No. 4 Ripon Christian hosts No. 5 Vacaville Christian. The Knights are among the hottest teams in the section, regardless of division. Ripon Christian has won 10 straight and edged Mariposa for the Southern League title. … No. 6 Modesto Christian travels to No. 3 Woodland Christian, while No. 8 Le Grand looks to upset No. 1 Rio Vista.
Division VII: Turlock Christian will follow its first-ever Central California Athletic Alliance championship with the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. The Eagles host Leroy Greene Academy of Sacramento. Turlock Christian should be well-rested. The Eagles clinched the CCAA title with a 21-1 victory over Stone Ridge Christian in their regular season finale on May 1. … No. 3 Big Valley Christian hosts No. 6 Hughes Academy.