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Former CYB talent succeeds at Merced Junior College
Two former Ceres Youth Baseball standouts had success on the same team at the collegiate level during the springtime.

Martin Gomez and Hunter Adrian played for Merced College, which posted a 24-15 overall record, advanced to the Nor-Cal Super Regional round of the playoffs and finished in second place in the Central Valley Conference standings (16-8).

Gomez, a 6-foot-tall, 175-pound freshman, graduated from Central Valley High School in 2009. He logged playing time at third base, designated hitter and pitcher with the Blue Devils. Martin amassed a .273 batting average (9-for-33), one homer, four RBIs, six runs, six walks and two stolen bases in 18 games.

"It's not like I sat the bench a lot," Gomez said. "I'm glad I got my spot starts, to pitch a little bit and play the field. It's a lot tougher than high school but it's fun. I enjoyed the challenge."

Martin's most memorable moment of the season came against visiting Reedley on March 23. He collected a pinch-hit solo homer in the seventh inning of Merced College's 8-0 win.

"It was a pretty good shot," Gomez said. "It felt good as soon as I hit it. I ran to first base pretty hard. As soon as it went over, I started jogging. My teammates and coaches were happy for me."

Gomez made eight appearances as a pitcher. He's posted a 2.31 ERA, allowed three runs, yielded 12 hits, struck out 11 and walked seven in 112/3 innings of relief.

Adrian, a 2008 Central Catholic graduate, had another stellar campaign for Merced College. The 6-foot-tall, 190-pound sophomore outfielder batted cleanup. He posted a .311 batting average (47-for-151) with six home runs, 14 doubles, 30 runs, 39 RBIs, 79 total bases, eight steals and a .523 slugging percentage in 39 games. Hunter earned first-team, all-CVC honors.

"I definitely could have had a better year," said Adrian, who attended Ceres High during his freshman year before transferring to his father's alma mater. "But we clicked as a team. I can't complain at all. I like winning more than the individual stuff."

Hunter was supposed to play behind three sophomores during his freshman year at Merced College. He worked his way into the starting lineup. Adrian hit .307 (47-for-153) with five homers, eight doubles, 33 runs and 38 RBIs as the Blue Devils captured the CVC championship and collected a program-best 36 wins.

"I've been progressively getting better every year," Adrian said. "I give all the credit to my coaches. I've been lucky."

Adrian and Gomez both decided to continue their baseball careers at Merced College for two reasons. The Blue Devils have a great coaching staff and a winning tradition.

"It's an honor playing for them," Gomez said. "They've taught me a lot. I still need to improve my overall game."

"If we want to hit in the cages two hours before practice, they'll be there 99 percent of the time helping out," Adrian said. "I don't know if you could find better coaches than we have."

Adrian and Gomez played for the Modesto Babe Ruth 16-18-year-old baseball team last summer. The all-star squad placed first at the Central California State Tournament and fell one win shy of a World Series berth following its runner-up finish at the Pacific Southwest Regional Tournament.

The two former CYB players tried to lead Merced College to the State Final Four and its second consecutive CVC crown in 2010. The Blue Devils just missed out on both goals.

Hunter and Martin both still had a blast.

"It's cool being able to talk about the old days at Costa Fields (complex for CYB)," Adrian said.

Added Gomez: "We're pretty good friends."