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Pride flood annual CCAL baseball awards
Andrew Balentine
Pitman’s Andrew Balentine was named league Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season (Journal file photo).

The Central California Athletic League announced their All-League teams for baseball earlier this week, and it should come as no surprise that the list is full of players from the two Turlock campuses that finished the regular season sitting 1-2 in the standings. Earning some of the highest honors were a trio from Pitman — players Andrew Balentine, Drew Walker and head coach Andy Walker.

At the top of the CCAL selection list is Balentine, who won league Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive season. Though the southpaw has committed to play ball for Fresno State in the fall as a pitcher, it was his contributions of both sides of the ball that put him above the rest.

As a pitcher, Balentine went 6-1 and posted. 2.66 ERA in 47 1/3 innings over 11 appearances. He struck out 61 batters while walking 35 and allowing 33 hits. At the plate, he hit .344 off of 33 hits, including three home runs, while driving in 30 in 96 at-bats. Additionally, he split time at first base in the outfield on days he wasn’t on the mound, racking up a .982 fielding percentage.

“It’s an honor winning MVP for the second year in a row,” Balentine said. “It feels great seeing all of my time spent in the offseason pay off. There are multiple people on our team that I think could have won the MVP, so I’m just happy I could do my part for the team and win a league championship.”

Another major key to winning this year’s league title for the Pride was Walker, a fellow lefty whose efforts earned him Pitcher of the Year honors.

Drew Walker
The Pride’s Drew Walker was awarded CCAL Pitcher of the Year honors (Journal file photo).

On the bump, Walker went 9-0 in 10 games started. In 54 1/3 innings tossed, he posted a 0.52 ERA, which was top ten in the entire CIF Sac-Joaquin Section. In total, he surrendered just seven runs, four earned off of 21 hits and 26 walks while striking out 88.

“I’m super excited to be awarded this, but also very honored considering the amount of talented pitchers in our league,” Walker said. “I’d like to thank all of my coaches, my catcher [Marcus Perez] and all of my team who played defense behind me.”

Andy Walker
Pitman’s Andy Walker was named Coach of the Year (Journal file photo).

Drew’s father, Andy, also earned honors as he was named Coach of the Year. This season under his watch, the Pride compiled a 21-8-1 overall record and 13-1 first-place finish in the CCAL. In the playoffs, the Pride played to three games in the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II bracket. It was the first time since 2015 under coach John Acha that the Pride appeared in the semifinal round of the Section playoffs.

“There are five other coaches in our league who do a tremendous job with their program, and I have the utmost respect for all of them. Therefore, it's quite an honor to be named CCAL Coach of the Year,” Walker said. “To me, this is a program award. It's a reflection of all of the coaches in our program who are great role models and prepare these young men daily, the players and parents who trust ‘The Pitman Way,’ and the success that we've had both on and off of the field.”

The Pride had two additional players named to First Team All-League – shortstop Cristian Jacinto and outfielder Aidan Garcia. Turlock High sophomore infielder Josh Ramirez also earned First Team honors.

The Bulldogs also had appearances on the Second Team All-League list, with Sean Clark, Carter Crivelli and Carson Gonzales being named. Joining them is Perez and Brandon Leon from Pitman. Receiving honorable mentions were Turlock’s Payton Hawkinson and Pitman’s Dominic Damante.