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CHS, CV baseball players face off in Rotary All-Star Game
• Bulldog, Hawk talent represent respective programs in Modesto Sunrise All-Star Classic
Brayden Clark and Kyan Bowen
Brayden Clark and Kyan Bowen represented Ceres High’s baseball program at the Modesto Sunrise Rotary All-Star Classic. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Ceres High’s Brayden Clark and Kyan Bowen, and Central Valley’s Eddie Stewart and Chris Garcia represented their respective teams at the Modesto Sunrise Rotary High School All-Star Baseball Classic earlier this month in Turlock.

Clark, Bowen and the Gold All-Stars pulled away for an 8-4 win over Stewart, Garcia and the Blue All-Stars on June 8 at Stanislaus State.

“The most enjoyable part was bonding with the best players from other schools and playing the game I love,” Bowen said.

“I enjoyed every bit of the experience,” saidStewart. “I knew a lot of the players. It was fun to reconnect with them and have a good time out there.”

“There were a lot of great players,” Clark said. “It was an intense game. It was fun. I definitely wanted to win. Last year, I was on the losing team.”

Bowen, a senior, logged playing time in the outfield for seven innings.

He batted 1-for-2 from the plate with one run and three stolen bases.

“I went into the game not really wanting to play,” commented Bowen. “It was hot. As soon as I got my first hit and scored, I was pumped.”

Clark, a senior, logged playing time at pitcher.

He allowed no earned runs with one strikeout and two walks in the seventh inning.

“I hadn’t pitched in a while,” Clark said. “I walked the first two batters. Once I got dialed in, I started pounding the zone. My knuckleball was the main pitch I was throwing.”

Bowen and Clark were teammates for three seasons at Ceres High, including two at the varsity level. They played one travel baseball season together and were rivals for two years.

“I got to play one last game with him,” Clark said. “To share that experience was fun.”

“We had a good connection,” Bowen added. “We became really good friends junior year.”

Bowen and Clark helped lead the Bulldogs to a 15-9 overall record and a tie for third place in the Western Athletic Conference standings (9-5). Ceres High fell one win short of qualifying for the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

Bowen managed to earn first-team, all-Western Athletic Conference honors during his final year with the Bulldogs despite missing the first six games of the season with a shoulder injury.

“I’m definitely satisfied with how my senior year ended. Once I got healed, I was a great help to the team. I was hitting. I was fielding.”

Bowen batted .442 from the plate with one triple, five doubles, 13 RBIs, nine runs and a .604 slugging percentage versus WAC competition.

He ranked first on the team in hits, triples, doubles and RBIs, second in batting average and slugging percentage, and fourth in runs.

“It all started clicking for him this season,” stated Ceres High head coach Raul Godinez. “The big difference from last year to this year was he had more solid contact at the plate. He was more disciplined. He was confident. When the pressure was on, he stepped up.”

“If you want to be a good hitter, it’s about timing and patience,” Bowen added.

Clark also earned first-team all-conference honors.

He starred at pitcher for the second year in a row.

Clark posted a 3-1 record with a 0.75 earned-run average, 45 strikeouts and 16 walks in 371/3 innings against WAC opponents.

“He had a great season,” Godinez said. “He was our ace pitcher. He did his job on the mound. He kept us in games.”

Clark logged playing time as an outfielder when he didn’t pitch.

He batted .300 from the plate with one double, three RBIs and three runs.

Clark had a combined record of 5-1 with 67 strikeouts at pitcher in WAC play the past two seasons.

“When it was time to lock in, he competed,” said Godinez. “He was level-headed. He was focused. He brought a different energy to the team. He’s going to be missed.”

“I’m satisfied,” Clark stated. “I let my playing do the talking. I went out there and had fun.”

Bowen will attend Sacramento State.

“I’m still undecided if I’m going to play baseball. I might walk on.”

Clark will attend Modesto Junior College.

“I’m going to play baseball there,” said Clark, who turned down a scholarship offers from Simpson University because the school didn’t have his major.

Stewart, a senior, logged playing time at third base for four innings at the All-Star Baseball Classic.

He batted 0-for-3 from the plate with two groundouts and one strikeout while representing the Hawks for the final time.

“I went out there with no worries and performed the best I could,” Stewart said. “I could have done better.”

Garcia, a junior, logged playing time at first base for four innings.

He batted 1-for-3 from the plate with one RBI.

Teammates at Central Valley for three seasons, Stewart and Garcia played baseball together for the first time at the youth level.

“Me and Chris have been friends forever,” Stewart said. “We’ve been playing baseball together my entire career. It was good to play with him one more time. It was really special. We just had fun like we always do.”

Stewart and Garcia led the 2024 Hawks to a 15-14 overall record, third-place finish in the Central California Conference standings (8-4) and Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I playoff berth.

Stewart had a productive four-year varsity career with the Hawks.

He earned second-team all-CCC honors this spring while contributing at third base and pitcher. He batted fourth in the Hawks’ lineup.

“He took on a big leadership role this year,” Central Valley head coach Brad Bussard said. “He was our vocal guy on the field. He guided our youth. He made plays left and right. He’s definitely going to be a presence we’re going to miss.”

Stewart posted a batting average of .310 with five doubles, 14 RBIs and 17 runs this season.

He ranked third on the team in batting average, hits, RBIs and runs, and fourth in doubles.

He compiled a 3-1 record on the mound with a 1.40 earned-run average and 16 strikeouts.

“This year was my best season,” Stewart said. “It was my senior year. I wanted to prove what I could do. I became more of a vocal leader on the field.”

Stewart plans to play baseball at Modesto Junior College or San Francisco City College.

Garcia filled the stat sheeting while earning second-team all-CCC accolades during his junior year with the Hawks.

He posted a batting average of .378 with two home runs, one triple, eight doubles, 16 RBIs and 19 runs as Central Valley’s No. 3 hitter.

He had slugging and on-base percentages of .594 and .548, respectively.

Garcia ranked first on the team in batting average, home runs, triples, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, and second in hits and doubles, RBIs and runs, and third in stolen bases.

“He took a big jump, offensively, this year,” Bussard said. “He was our clutchest hitter. He made us a lot better.”

A  CCC honorable-mention pitcher as a freshman, Garcia has logged just 191/3 innings on the mound the past two seasons because of arm issues.

“Chris found a different way to contribute to the team this year,” Bussard said. “He wanted to be there for his team. The potential has always been there. He took hitting just as serious as pitching. It was definitely a battle at first.”

Chris Garcia Brad Bussard and Stewart
Central Valley High School’s baseball program had two players compete in the Modesto Sunrise Rotary High School All-Star Game, including Chris Garcia and Eddie Stewart. Pictured: Garcia, Hawks’ head coach Brad Bussard and Stewart. - photo by Contributed to the Courier