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Busy summer for Bulldog slugger
Ceres High's Robert Cope had a busy summer.

The right-handed slugger suited up for the Oakdale-based CenCal under-17 baseball club. He reunited with former Bulldog coach Mike McNeil.

"It's one of the most enjoyable teams I've ever been a part of," said Cope, who played third base and some catcher. "We had great team chemistry going on. Everybody had each other's back no matter what happened."

CenCal's 18-player roster featured Ceres' Cope and John Alonzo, Oakdale's Justin Jones, Nick VanderTuig and Dante Major, Sonora's Garrett Everhart, Enochs' Mike Stewart and Kevin Miller, Ripon Christian's Matt Unruh, Escalon's Leighton Pangilinan, St Mary's Mike Rivera, Calaveras' Jake Mote, Pitman's Tyler Harris, Atwater's Colton Beatty, Buhach Colony's Connor Oldcorn and Clovis East's Jeff Owen.

They played more than 40 games over two months, beginning in May.

"We did real well," Cope said

CenCal ended its summer by placing second with a 10-2 record at the Phil Singer Memorial Tournament, held July 25-31 in Oceanside.

"We're a team he would have loved to watch because we battle," Cope said. "We're not the biggest or strongest guys but we find a way to get it done."

Baden Seattle Baseball edged CenCal 7-6 in seven innings for the title.

Robert missed the finale after being bit by a spider on his right eye.

"I woke up and couldn't see," Cope said. "I was pretty much at the hospital the whole day."

Robert played in 11 games during the week-long event. He batted 10-for-12 with one homer and six RBIs.

CenCal played in four tournaments in Long Beach, placing first once and second three times. Cope crushed two homers.

At the World Wood Bat Association National Championship in Georgia, July 8-14, CenCal finished 13th in a field of 188. Cope went 15-for-20.

"There was a lot of close games," he said. "We didn't face a pitcher that threw under 88 miles per hour."

Robert just started his senior year at Ceres High School.

He starred at the varsity level the last two seasons, earning first-team all-conference honors in 2007-08 and the Valley Oak League offensive player of the year award as a sophomore.

Cope batted a team-best .439 (18-for-41) with one homer, two doubles, 11 walks, 12 runs, eight RBIs and just three strikeouts as a junior despite being pitched around.

He ranked first in league in batting average (.559), home runs (3), slugging percentage (1.000) and on-base percentage (.659), second in RBIs (18) and triples (3), third in runs (17) and fifth in doubles (2) in 2006-07.

Robert hopes to get selected during the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft.

"It would be pretty special because that's my life," Cope said. "It would be a dream come true."