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Bulldogs make history
CHS captures first league title since 1991
Brent Bussard (15) and Merrik Price (10) helped lead Ceres High Schools varsity baseball program to a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Ceres High School's varsity baseball team bounced back in a big way following its 11-6 extra-inning loss to defending Western Athletic Conference champion Central Catholic on May 5 at Art McRae Field.

The Bulldogs captured a share of the WAC title with a 10-0 mercy-rule victory over the Raiders on May 6 in Modesto.

"We went from the lowest of lows to the highest of highs in 24 hours," Ceres High head coach John Bussard said.

Ceres High and Central Catholic compiled identical 11-1 records.

The Raiders and Bulldogs placed first and second, respectively, in the conference standings last year.

Ceres High won its last league title in 1991.

"These guys have been resilient all year," Bussard said. "This is the most unified group I've ever coached. They believe in their coaches and each other."

Dylan Canatsy starred at pitcher during Ceres High's WAC title-clinching rout of Central Catholic.

Canatsy filled in for ace Brad Bussard, who's been limited to offense and defense because of arm soreness.

Dylan, who relied on his fastball, allowed no runs and three hits with two strikeouts and three walks in six innings.

"He only threw one off-speed pitch the entire day," John Bussard said. "He definitely stepped up. He was impressive."

Added Brad Bussard: "He was in the zone. He was dominant. It's a great moment for Dylan."

Ceres High collected 11 hits off the Raiders' pitching staff.
Brent Bussard led the way with two RBIs and two runs.
Canatsy batted 2-for-4 with two RBIs and one run.

Brett Conway batted 2-for-2 with two RBIs and one run.

Izaiah Hernandez batted 1-for-2 with two runs.

Alan Marquez batted 1-for-2 with one RBI and one run.

Jimmy Bates batted 1-for-4 with one RBI.

Brad Bussard batted 2-for-3 with one run.

Brandon Machado batted 1-for-3 with one run.

Merrik Price batted 1-for-3 with one run.

The Bulldogs scored five runs in both the fourth and sixth innings.

Ceres High squandered leads of 2-0, 5-2 and 6-4 while losing 11-6 to visiting Central Catholic on May 5.

The victory helped the Raiders annex their eighth consecutive WAC championship.

"We talked about playing Central Catholic, not the aura of CC (leading up to Tuesday's game)," coach Bussard said. "The fact that we were able to respond in such emphatic fashion was surprising. The kids deserve all the credit in the world."
"We stopped their dominance," Brad added. "It's a great feeling."

Tied atop the WAC standings, Ceres High and Central Catholic played a tiebreaker game on Wednesday to determine seeding for playoffs.

The Raiders earned the conference's top seed on the strength of a 6-3 win in Ceres.

"Our guys are emotionally exhausted," said John Bussard, who was drenched with water by his players following the Bulldogs' final regular-season game. "Outside of my years as an assistant coach at Dos Palos, I've had to deal with Central Catholic for years. It's incredibly, personally satisfying to get over that hump."

Ceres High (23-6) will face Valley Oak League No. 2 seed Sierra (20-4, 12-2) in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV playoffs on Thursday at Tony Zupo Field. The contest will get underway at 4 p.m.

"Our major goal was accomplished," coach Bussard said. "We won league. Anything above and beyond this is icing on the cake."

"There's no pressure going into playoffs," Brad said. "I'm not too worried if I don't end up pitching. If we play our game, we can beat anyone. We proved that against Central Catholic."