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Bulldogs hungry for more success in baseball
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Ceres High School's varsity baseball program enjoyed a memorable 2011 campaign.

The Bulldogs advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, compiled a 17-10 record and finished in third place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (9-6).

Ceres High will be vying for its second straight postseason berth and first league title in 20 years this Spring.

The Bulldogs' hopes remain high despite having to move forward without veteran players Brent Ward, Dustin Baisdon, Tyler Cummings, Matt Cardelli and Tyler Brenning, and head coach Bret Durossette.

Ward, Baisdon, Cummings, Cardelli and Brenning were lost to graduation.

Durossette stepped down to focus on football.

New leader John Bussard was an assistant on Bret's staff this past season. He coached varsity baseball at Gustine High School for 14 years.

"I'm extremely excited at the opportunity that's been presented to me," Bussard. "Bret's laid a great foundation. I definitely think we're headed in the right direction. We honestly feel you can rebuild and compete at the same time. The main thing is gelling as a team. That's what we're focused on."

Ceres High's roster features a blend of experience and youth.

Jimbo Pernetti (Jr., IF/P/C), Nick Welsh (Sr., OF), A.J. Fontana (Sr., OF/IF), Jonathan Medeiros (Sr., DH/IF), Brandon Arevalos (Jr., OF/P), Haydon Turpin (Jr., IF/P), Tim Cardelli (Sr., OF) and Jose Delahoya (Sr., OF) are varsity returners.

Pernetti was named to the WAC First Team last season. Jimbo batted .329 with two homers, one triple, six doubles, 11 RBIs, 16 runs and two stolen bases on the year.

"He's such an offensive threat and he does a great job on defense," Bussard said.

Welsh received second-team accolades. Nick hit .369 with two homers, one triple, three doubles, 14 RBIs, 26 runs and seven stolen bases.

Fontana hit .362 with two homers, one triple, 21 RBIs and 13 runs.

Medeiros hit .325 with seven doubles, nine RBIs and nine runs.

Arevalos hit .315 with two homers, one double, 11 RBIs, 16 runs and two stolen bases.

First-year varsity players Joey Carrillo (Jr., IF), David Page (Jr. OF/P), Devon Ruger (Jr., IF/P), Lucas Silva (Jr., OF) and Jimmy Bates (So., IF) helped lead Ceres High's JV baseball squad to a 20-8 record and second-place finish in the WAC (14-4) in 2011.

Jose Saldivar (Sr., IF), Brad Bussard (Fr., IF/P), Brent Bussard (Fr., C/P/OF) and Brett Conway (Fr., C/P) are also new to the team.

"We brought up some youth from the lower level," John Bussard said. "Our decisions were based on what our needs were."

Turpin, Pernetti, Arevalos, Page, Ruger, Conway, Brad Bussard and Brent Bussard will all see playing time at pitcher.

Turpin, who's still recovering from an ankle injury sustained during the basketball season, will be the Bulldogs' No. 1 starter.

He compiled a 2-0 record with 19 strikeouts, six walks and one save in 162/3 innings as a sophomore.

Haydon notched wins against Downey and Hughson.

Pernetti had a 1-0 mark while making four appearances for the Bulldogs.

Page and Ruger posted a combined record of 14-7 with three shutouts, seven complete games, 136 strikeouts and 72 walks at the JV level.

"We do have quite a few arms we can throw out there," John Bussard said.

The top three teams in the WAC advance to the playoffs.

Ceres High, which lost 6-2 to Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV repeat champion Oakdale in the opening round of the 2011 playoffs, has high hopes.

The Bulldogs finished behind Central Catholic (13-2) and Los Banos (11-4) in conference play a season ago.

Livingston (7-8), Central Valley (5-10) and Patterson (0-15) placed fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.

The Hawks won the crosstown series, 2-1.

Pacheco will field its first-ever varsity team this year.

"A lot of schools lost quite a few senior leaders with the exception of Livingston," Bussard said. "I'm extremely optimistic. If we do the things we're supposed to do, we should be in the thick of things."