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Saturday, Jul 07 2012 11:07 PM

2012 All-Area baseball selections

By The Bakersfield Californian

2012 All-Area Baseball Team

CO-PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

A.J. Ramirez, Bakersfield Christian

Senior * infielder

Yes, he plays for a small school, but Ramirez also opened eyes while playing for a St. Louis Cardinals-affiliated scout team in the offseason. Then the USC signee hit .505 with 10 home runs and 30 extra-base hits for the Eagles, who won the South Sequoia League and reached the Division IV section championship game.

Jake Sweaney, Garces

Junior * catcher

After an 0-for-2 opener, Sweaney finished the year on a 32-game hitting streak that included 11 home runs, 18 doubles, a .496 batting average and 24 stolen bases. He also kept opposing baserunners on their toes with a bullet arm from behind the plate.

FIRST TEAM

Colton Blankenship, North

Senior * pitcher

Perhaps the Southeast Yosemite League's top pitcher, Blankenship sported a 1.78 ERA and 82 strikeouts. He batted .387 and nearly beat Clovis, a team that advanced to the championship, in the Division I playoffs.

Casey Bloomquist, Bakersfield Christian

Senior * pitcher

On the mound, the Cal Poly signee had a 1.26 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 61 innings. Bloomquist also hit .489 with 12 doubles and 43 runs scored.

Rolando Martinez, Ridgeview

Senior * infielder

The shortstop for the co-South Yosemite League champs put up some eye-popping numbers: a county-leading .589 batting average, a .982 slugging percentage and 10 stole bases.

Josh Medina, Liberty

Sophomore * infielder

A solid defender who contributed at the plate as a sophomore, Medina finished tied for the team lead with a .421 average and a team-high 6 home runs.

Brody Russell, Centennial

Senior * infielder

The Fresno State signee and Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick was a slick defender, hit .358 and led the state with 12 home runs. His on-base percentage was .518.

Nick Vehlewald, Garces

Senior * infielder

He hit .500 with 9 home runs, and he often saved his hits for the biggest moments: A walk-off double against North clinched the Southeast Yosemite League, and he capped the Rams' rally with a game-winning single against Lemoore in the Division III section semifinals.

Kyle Nixon, Frontier

Senior * outfielder

The Cal State Bakersfield signee went crazy with 8 doubles and 8 home runs to go with a .469 batting average, 14 stolen bases and 41 runs scored, plus some of the best outfield defense in town.

Travis Tessandori, Tehachapi

Senior * outfielder

In leading the Warriors to a 23-5 season, Tessandori hit .500 with 9 doubles and 5 triples. He had 39 stolen bases, scored 45 runs and was 5-1 as a pitcher.

Erik Williams, Stockdale

Senior * outfielder

The Mustangs won the Southwest Yosemite League, and here's a big reason. Williams hit 10 of the team's 15 home runs as part of a .442 average and .884 slugging percentage. He drove in 39 runs and stole 15 bases.

Max Carter, Stockdale

Junior * utility

The MVP of the SWYL, Carter contributed at the plate with a .389 average and seven doubles, and he sported a .372 ERA and seven wins on the mound, beating every other ace in the league.

Christian Sinnott, Liberty

Junior * utility

One of the SWYL's best all-around players, Sinnott hit .421 with 13 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases. Pitching, he was 9-2 with a 3.32 ERA and 82 strikeouts.

SECOND TEAM

P: Andrew Heideman, jr, Bakersfield Christian

P: Todd Nicks, jr, Centennial

C: Junior Felix, jr, Stockdale

IF: Tyler Raper, sr, Liberty

IF: Harrison Smith, soph, Frontier

IF: Eddie Torres, jr, Frontier

IF: Ryan Unruh, jr, Bakersfield Christian

OF: Joey Cooper, soph, Mira Monte

OF: Andrew Daughtery, jr, Centennial

OF: Josh Stone, jr, Stockdale

Util: Drew Galvan, sr, North

Util: A.J. Jackopin, sr, Liberty

Util: Kevin Little, sr, Kern Valley

Util: A.J. Villalobos, sr, Centennial

HONORABLE MENTION

Bakersfield: Mason Perryman, Connor Smith

Bakersfield Christian: Matt Huckaby, Ricky Sottile

Centennial: Joe Bresson, Corbin Burnes, Brock Hallum

East: Tim Billingsley, Junior Juarez, Tanner Vieyra

Foothill: Ryan Rangle

Frontier: Christian Deaton, Cameron Moore, Monty Stevens, Allan Winans

Garces: Jack Anspach, Patrick Farley, Tristan Hammans, Steven Hardt, Vinny Hudiburg, Kenneth Lopez

Golden Valley: Andy Cantu, Mason Ladd, Jerad Puskarich, Austin Toerner

Highland: Fernando Muenton

Independence: Nick Hill

Kern Valley: Corey Mixon

Liberty: Kaidan Meadows, Ross Puskarich

Mira Monte: Rudy Barela, Miguel Esquivel, Nick Martinez, Austin Morales, Ryan McQuennie

North: John Abercrombie, C.J. McAninch

Ridgeview: Paul Bustamante, Erik Ontiveros

Shafter: Cyrus Parsons

Stockdale: James Hockstad, Matt Lemon, Zach Tanner

Taft: Steven Gee, Caleb Lopez, Austin Pendergrass

Tehachapi: Ross Feeley

Wasco: Alex Regalado

West: Oscar Gamboa, Hunter Villanueva

2012 All-Area Baseball Coach of the Year: Guye Dees, Garces

Everything had come together for Guy Dees and his Garces baseball team -- the pitching was good, the defense was great, they'd even found some surprise offense.

But it was all coming to an end here in the Central Section Division III semifinals. Garces was down 5-1 to Lemoore in the bottom of the seventh inning, and a nice run was coming to an end.

"We've talked with fans who were there, and everybody had that mindset: The season's coming to an end," said Dees, The Californian's Coach of the Year. "But you just kind of, as that inning began to unfold, you kind of could tell something special was going on."

First came a walk, then a hit, and then another. Suddenly, Garces had rallied for five runs and an improbable victory. Two days later, they won in extra innings at top seed Fresno to win the D-III title in magical fashion -- after losing Jack Campbell, Grant Campbell and Nick Sakowski, who produced more than half of the Rams' runs in 2011, to graduation.

"Our dugout was just very positive all year," Dees said. "It just kind of felt like good things were going to happen."

Dees was the captain of a ship destined for greatness.

"You want to be intense and have players who have intensity, but you also have to remember that they are 16, 17-year-old kids," Dees said. "I think that's an awful large part of coaching, being able to balance that. You push the buttons when you can push them."

-- ZACH EWING

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