State

Central faces Hilmar in D-V final

LODI -- There's not a more decorated baseball program in the Sac-Joaquin Section than Central Catholic High.

The Raiders have won a section-record 10 championships, including a remarkable nine in a row, and hope to add to that today against Western Athletic Conference rival Hilmar in the Division V final at 6 p.m.

The game will be played at Zupo Field, where both teams have had plenty of success.

Central went 3-0 vs. Mother Lode League teams at Zupo in the earlier rounds, including a 2-0 sweep of Calaveras in the best-of-three semifinals.

The only surprise on Central's side of the bracket was that Escalon, 26-0 in the regular season, wasn't there to see the Raiders in the semifinal.

Calaveras upset Escalon 9-1 in the single-elimination first round, but the Redskins were no match for Central (24-6).

The opposite bracket, however, was full of surprises.

Hilmar shocked MLL champion Bret Harte in its opener, while Patterson was surprising Ripon in the other game.

The WAC rivals -- who finished third and second, respectively, behind Central -- met in the semifinal series and Hilmar won 15-3 and 11-1.

Hilmar (13-15) was 6-13 at one point, but has won seven of its last nine games and will be playing for its first title.

Before labeling the 'Jackets as fodder on Central's march to yet another title, remember this: Hilmar beat Central 7-6 April 30, the Raiders' lone loss in their last 11 games.

Hilmar beat sophomore ace Billy Flamion (12-2, 2.18 ERA) with homers by A.J. Miranda and Samuel Ramirez, ending his eight-game win streak.

Hilmar lacks an ace of Flamion's stature, but Brandon Cummings (6-2, 3.19 ERA) has nearly half of the team's wins and opponents are batting just .203 against him.

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