The Gregori High baseball team didn’t duplicate its historic 2017 season, but it did retain the MVP award.
Senior Branden Pasion has been named the Modesto Metro Conference MVP, as voted upon by the coaches. Pasion followed the blueprint that helped former Jaguars star Matt Dallas earn two conference MVPs and back-to-back All-District Player of the Year awards.
The third baseman and pitcher was versatile … and consistently good.
Pasion led the Jaguars in nearly every category from the bump or the dish, including average (.443), hits (35), doubles (13), triples (four), wins (seven), ERA (1.08), complete games (six) and innings (64.2).
One year removed from a near-perfect regular season and Division I semifinal appearance, Gregori finished 15-14 and returned to the postseason as a low seed. The Jaguars’ stay wasn’t long, though. Gregori was eliminated in the first round by Carmichael-based section power Jesuit.
This season, Beyer, a perennial south section heavyweight, carries the flag for the MMC.
The sixth-seeded Patriots have outscored their two opponents in the Division III tournament 16-0, including an 8-0 victory over No. 3 Oakdale on Thursday.
Senior T.J. Wheeler homered for the second straight game, continuing one of the more impressive offensive campaigns in recent memory.
The MMC’s Offensive Player of the Year has reached safely in all 29 games and boasts a lofty average of .515. He has 35 hits, 33 RBIs, 13 doubles and three home runs for the Patriots (20-9), who play No. 7 Rio Americano on Saturday afternoon in a quarterfinal game at the University of the Pacific’s Klein Family Field.
First pitch is at 4.
The tournament switches to double-elimination format. The winner advances to Tuesday's semifinal round, while the loser falls into an elimination bracket.
Modesto (20-8) made its first playoff appearance in 17 years, but the thrill was short-lived. The Panthers were blanked by Davis of Yolo in the first round of the Division I tournament, but they weren’t shut out of the postseason awards.
The Panthers took home three individual awards after earning a share of their first conference title since 1989.
Daryl Galloway was named the Coach of the Year in his 13th season. Modesto achieved a series of firsts this spring, including most single-season wins (20) and the MMC’s No. 1 overall playoff seed. The Panthers earned the latter distinction by winning the season series with co-champion Beyer, taking two of the three games.
Pitching depth was Modesto’s strength.
Senior Tyler Shafer was named the Defensive Player of the Year after finishing 7-2 with a 1.14 ERA and four complete games. He struck out 60 batters in 49.1 innings.
Teammate Carlos Castillo put up similar numbers en route to the conference’s Pitcher of the Year. Castillo was 7-2 with a 1.48 ERA, five complete games and team highs in strikeouts (74) and innings (52).
All-Modesto Metro Conference
MVP: Branden Pasion, senior, Gregori.
Offensive Player of the Year: T.J. Wheeler, senior, Beyer.
Defensive Player of the Year: Tyler Shafer, senior, Modesto.
Pitcher of the Year: Carlos Castillo, senior, Modesto.
Coach of the Year: Daryl Galloway, Modesto.
First team: Pitcher — Anderson Grover, junior, Downey. Catcher — Zach Cooper, senior, Downey. Infielders — Nick Urrutia, senior, Gregori; Sam Hale, junior, Enochs; R.J. Soria, junior, Modesto; Armando Alvarez, senior, Beyer. Outfielder — Ben Polack, senior, Beyer; Trent Prokes, junior, Modesto; Evan Klump, senior, Modesto. Utility — Brady Cardozo, junior, Beyer; R.J. Berumen, senior, Modesto.
Second team: Pitcher — Jake Cervantes, senior, Davis. Catcher — Derek Gonzalez, senior, Beyer. Infielders — Conner Trester, senior, Downey; Matt Rhodes, senior, Gregori; Colton MacCaughtry, senior, Gregori; Hunter Brown, sophomore, Enochs; Brett Zimmerman, freshman, Gregori. Outfielder — Jesse Rodriguez, senior, Johansen. Utility — Joel Gully, senior, Davis.
Honorable mention: Ray Rosas, senior, Beyer; Xavier Rodriguez, junior, Davis; J.P. Hansen, junior, Enochs; Dylan Boney, sophomore, Gregori; Elijah Knight, senior, Johansen; Colton Cruce, senior, Modesto.