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Cesar vs. Mooneyham: Be there!

Shawn Jansen

Local baseball fans won't have to wait long for a marquee pitching showdown.

The Central California Conference begins league play next week with last year's playoff teams -- Golden Valley and Buhach Colony -- squaring off in an opening two-game series.

The featured game of the week comes Thursday at Golden Valley, when GV's Duke-bound right-hander Trevor Cesar takes the mound against Buhach Colony's ace Brett Mooneyham -- who's headed for Stanford.

"Fans should expect a pretty fast game," Golden Valley coach Scott Solis said. "My advice would be not to show up late."

Both teams look like playoff teams so far this season.

Golden Valley is 7-2, with one of its two losses a 12-2 defeat to BC in the championship game of the Hiro Nishikawa Tournament in Fresno last week.

Buhach has stormed out to a 9-1 start after opening the season ranked No. 16 in the state by CalHiSports.

"We've played them once and they're very good," Solis said. "They're the best team we've played or seen in the nine games we've played."

The series will open at Buhach Colony on Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Right-hander Sergio Gutierrez will throw for GV, while Buhach coach Wayne Fitzgerald is still deciding between last year's ace Dylan Floro and Cal State Fullerton-bound senior Justin Koehler.

Cesar and Mooneyham will go toe to toe on Thursday at GV at 4 p.m.

"I'm definitely stoked," said Cesar, who was the Sun-Star Player of the Year last year.

"Brett is obviously going to have guys watching him. We played in (Los Angeles) together. Scouts were there and we gave them our schedules.

"There will definitely be pro scouts there. It's definitely exciting."

Cesar finished 9-2 last year, including a win against BC and two wins in the playoffs.

The reigning league MVP is 2-0 this year with a 0.64 ERA -- while Mooneyham is off to a 3-0 start with a 0.53 ERA.

"They're both two good pitchers who are tough when they have their stuff working," Fitzgerald said.

"You have to be able to execute when you face a guy like that."

Cesar isn't going to shy away from the individual match-up on the mound.

"I love that," he said. "When I'm pitching, I'm really competitive when I know the other guy is really good.

"I know the game is much more than me pitching against the other guy, but for me, it's me against him."

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IT'S ALWAYS interesting when we put All-Area teams together for the different sports.

Coaches are generally good with sending in interesting facts about their kids.

But this effort was particularly impressive.

Los Banos wrestler Andrew Vander Poel's 51 wins and 36 pins this season were the most by any LB wrestler in Dan Roton's 17 years of coaching at the school.

Vander Poel was also only the second Los Banos wrestler to advance to the state meet twice. The other was Victor Martinez, who made it in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Vander Poel only lost six times this year. Five of the wrestlers who beat him placed first, third, fourth, fifth and sixth place at the state meet.

* * *

A REMINDER to all our local basketball coaches...

We will once again be doing our NCAA Tournament coaches bracket challenge.

Somebody has to stop Le Grand girls coach Danny Crosby, who has won the contest the past two years.

The tournament brackets will be released on Sunday afternoon.

Please fax your brackets to me at 385-2460 by Wednesday or e-mail them to the address below.

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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