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Merced's Nelson CCC MVP

It's no secret how the Merced baseball team won a share of the Central California Conference.

The Bears did it with pitching, and no pitcher was better than Mike Nelson.

The Merced senior was 6-0 in CCC play with a 0.91 ERA.

It seemed only fitting the conference coaches selected him as the CCC Most Valuable Player.

"If you look at our hitting stats he was the only logical choice as MVP of the league," Merced coach Lou Souza said. "We tied for first and got the No. 1 seed. For us to get that our pitching had to be doggone good.

"His pitching had a lot to do with where we are."

Nelson thought teammate Jaquari People was joking when he told him about the MVP award.

"I was coming back on campus from lunch when Jaquari told me congratulations," Nelson said. "I didn't know if he was joking until I saw the paper hanging up in the locker room."

Nelson will get the start when the Bears (16-11) open the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs today against Merrill West (13-9) at the University of the Pacific's Klein Family Field at 4 p.m.

West defeated Beyer 7-3 in an out-bracket game on Monday.

"West is a good team," Souza said. "I got a chance to see them play Beyer. Their heart of the order is legit. They swing the bat."

Outfielder Andrew Jaurique was the only other Merced player to earn all-CCC first- or second-team honors.

Jaurique was joined on the first team by five Buhach Colony players: Russel Molina, Daulton Jefferies, Kert Woods, Bradley Bertuccio and Robby Dallas.

Turlock shortstop Kevin Kramer was named the CCC Offensive Player of the Year.

Souza and Bulldogs coach Mark de la Motte were selected Co-Coaches of the Year.

Rounding out the first team was Turlock pitcher Jeremy McDonald and catcher Ryan Brown and the Pitman quartet of Clay Cozzitorto (pitcher), Michael Lopes (first base), A.J. Derr (utility) and Zach Olsen (outfield).

The Pride also had four players named to the second team in Brandon Lewis, Adam Nascimento, Shea Patterson and Steven Kha.

The Turlock quartet of Nick Voumard, James Heller, Ryan Flood and Ryan Cumberland also earned second-team honors.

They were joined on the second team by Golden Valley's Blake Rice and Tyler Arnsberg and Atwater's Jared Cook.

Matt Sellers (BC), Daniel Hermosillo (GV), and the Merced trio of Garret Boothe, Ashton Guerrero and Jarod Reyna were honorable mention.

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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