Ceres High School's varsity baseball team has emerged as a serious threat to end Central Catholic's six-year reign in the Western Athletic Conference.
The Bulldogs swept Los Banos last week and remained in a first-place tie atop the league standings with the Raiders.
"A lot of people still don't believe in us," Ceres High head coach John Bussard said. "That motivates these guys quite a bit. We have a special group when we get everyone on the same page."
The Bulldogs improved to 18-3-1 on the year and 8-0 in the WAC.
The Tigers dropped to 12-7-1 and 1-5.
"This is what we planned for by doing what we did last year by pulling up all of those freshmen," Bussard said. "We rebuilt and competed at the same time. Winning is a product of hard work and doing things the right way."
Ceres High routed Los Banos via the five-inning mercy rule, 13-1, on April 16 at Art McRae Field.
Bulldog star pitcher Haydon Turpin (7-1) allowed just one run and four hits with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
Ceres High collected 12 hits while putting on an offensive showcase.
Brandon Arevalos batted 2-for-2 with two homers, three RBIs and two runs.
Jimbo Pernetti batted 3-for-4 with one homer, one double, four RBIs and one run.
Jimmy Bates batted 2-for-2 with two doubles, five RBIs and one run.
Brad Bussard batted 2-for-3 with three runs.
Ceres High committed five errors during Thursday's 7-4 win at Los Banos.
"It's tough to play at a high level every game," coach Bussard said.
Brad Bussard (7-1) pitched a complete-game, three-hitter with five strikeouts. He allowed four runs-none were earned.
Devon Ruger led Ceres High's eight-hit attack.
He batted 2-for-3 with one double, one RBI and one run.
Brad Bussard batted 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run.
Arevalos batted 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
Pernetti batted 1-for-2 with one double and two runs.
Brett Conway batted 1-for-2 with one double and one RBI.
If Ceres High and Central Catholic both sweep their opponents this week, it will set up a winner-take-all WAC season finale.
"We're looking forward to that series," coach Bussard said. "We're all aware of who they've beaten and what their scores are. We don't care about what they've done in the past. We'd love to take a league title away from them before they leave the WAC."