Some of the most highly touted baseball players in the Stanislaus County division will be coming together on June 10 at Warrior Field on the grounds of California State University, Stanislaus for the 31st Modesto Sunrise Rotary All-Star Baseball Game. This year’s game marks the first since 2019.
Though there will be at least one player from each of the Stanislaus County high school baseball teams, next weekend’s game may as well be viewed as the fourth installment of this year’s Turlock High vs. Pitman High regular season series, as eight players from the two schools have been named All-Stars. Additionally, managing for the Gold Team is Pitman’s Andy Walker, while Turlock’s Mike Souza will lead the Blue Team.
This year, Walker led the Pride to a 21-8-1 overall record and 13-1 first-place finish in the Central California Athletic League. In the playoffs, his team played to three games in the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. Finishing in second place in the CCAL were the Bulldogs. In his first year as head coach, Souza managed the team to a 15-12-1 overall record and a 10-5 league finish before bowing out in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I bracket.
Joining Walker on the Gold Team and further representing the Pride are pitchers Andrew Balentine, Drew Walker and Brandon Leon, shortstop Cristian Jacinto and catcher Marcus Perez.
Balentine, who was named the Central California Athletic League Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year, was 6-1 on the mound this season with a 2.66 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings pitched over 11 appearances. Walker, the CCAL Pitcher of the Year, had a 9-0 record with a 0.52 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings pitched over 10 appearances. Leon contributed at the back end of the Pride starting rotation with a 3-2 record and 2.20 ERA with 39 punchouts in 41 1/3 innings pitched over 10 appearances. On the hitting side of things, Jacinto achieved an even .300 batting average in 90 a-bats, producing 27 hits, 18 walks and 18 RBI out of the leadoff spot for the Pride. As for Perez, it was a combination of consistent hitting and stellar defense and pitch calling behind the plate that earned him a roster spot. At the plate, Perez hit .319 with 29 hits, including a home run, in 91 at-bats. Behind the dish, he had a fielding percentage of .981 and racking up 122 putouts in 162 chances.
Over on the Blue Team with Souza representing the Bulldogs are pitchers Payton Hawkinson and Carson Gonzales, as well as outfielder Carter Crivelli.
In 53 1/3 innings tossed over 11 appearances on the year, Hawkinson had a 2.89 ERA with 84 strikeouts enroute to a 5-3 record. Gonzalez has a similar winning percentage on the mound as he went 4-2 on the season in nine appearances. In 43 2/3 innings, Gonzales had a 1.44 ERA with 62 punchouts. As for Crivelli, he hit .261 on the year in 69 at-bats, grabbing 18 hits and working nine walks enroute to driving in nine runners. What set him apart from the pack was his defense, as the speedy outfielder only had one error in 51 chances over 27 games. His speed was also on display on the basepaths as he swiped seven bags on the year.
Another notable All-Star selection is Turlock Christian’s Gavin Farinha, who has been added to the Gold roster. Farinha was dominant throughout the year for the Eagles, earning a 102 record in his 12 starts. In his 62 innings of work, he struck out 129 batters while surrendering just 20 hits, eventually posting a 0.23 ERA by year’s end. Saturday’s game will be the second time in Farinha’s stellar high school career in which he will be facing other Turlock competition, as he pitched against the Bulldogs in April at the annual Mark Dickens Invitational Tournament in Oakdale – one of his two losses on the year.
The Coyotes of Denair High School will also be well represented thanks to infielder Jackson Hart and head coach Mike Stucker. Hart batted .271 with 13 hits and two walks in 48 at-bats. In the 16 times he reached base, the speedster stole four bases in five attempts and cored 13 times. Meanwhile, Stucker will serve as an assistant coach for Souza after leading the young Coyotes to a 5-11 record in his first year at the helm. The exhibition game will also serve as a homecoming for the Denair coach, who played for Stanislaus State in 1999 under legendary Turlock High coach Mark de la Motte.
Rounding out the Blue Team’s coaching staff is Trace Thomas, the head coach of the Hughson High Huskies, who went 22-6 on the year after advancing to the semifinal round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoffs. Pitcher Caleb Wilson, catcher Gavin Stone and infielder Paul Wagner will join their coach on the Blue Team roster.
Wilson led the way for the Huskies on the mound with a 7-3 record in 12 games. He achieved a 1.47 ERA with 76 strikeouts over 57 innings. Doing most of Wilson’s catching was Stone, who had a .982 fielding percentage behind the dish over 164 chances in 27 games played. At the plate, Stone had a whopping .482 batting average in 81 at-bats, which consisted of 39 hits and 32 RBI. Wagner also dominated at the plate for Hughson, hitting .376 in 85 at-bats. In total, he had 32 hits, including a home run, on his way to driving in 27 teammates.First pitch is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Admission is $5 at the gate.