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Standout players lead East past West
Ceres Highs Bussard winning coach
Recent Central Valley grad Jorge Alvarez singled during the Easts 7-2 win against the West in the Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic on Saturday in Turlock. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Focused on the task at hand, recent Ceres High grads Brad Bussard, Brent Bussard and Brett Conway all contributed during the East's 7-2 victory over the West in the 26th Annual Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic Saturday evening at Cal State Stanislaus.

Ceres High's John Bussard coached the winning side.

"We had a discussion in the morning about this possibly being the final time we take the field together as a group," said John, the father of Brad and Brent, and the coach of his two sons and Conway for the past four seasons.

"I was more focused on the game," Brad said. "That's the mentality I had. We had confidence we were going to win based on the talent we had. A lot of the guys on my team are good friends of mine. It was fun."

Brad batted 0-for-3 from the plate with one run.

Brent and Brett were both hitless in three at-bats.

Brad logged playing time at second base in the first, second, third and fourth innings.

Brent started in centerfield and exited the game prior to the start of the fifth inning.

Brett played catcher in the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings.

Drew Stahl, a 2015 Ceres High grad, was selected to play in the all-star game. The standout pitcher/hitter/third baseman turned down the invitation.

"He was on vacation with his family," John said.

Jorge Alvarez of crosstown-rival Central Valley singled up the middle versus the West.

Alvarez contributed at third base in the first, second, third and fourth innings.

John Bussard's coaching staff featured Ceres High's Rudy Conway and Clint Goblirsch, and Central Valley's Derrick Goblirsch and Mario Navarro.

Clint and Derrick, former standout Bulldog athletes, are brothers.

"It was a no-brainer to have them help us," John said. "Our coaching staffs get along great. We work very well together. We socialize off the field. I got big-time respect for them. Clint's the logical choice to step in for me when I decide to stop coaching."

Hughson's Lane Cobb, Kyle Cockrell, Dakota Draper and Dylan Horner also suited up for the East team.

Brad, Brent and Lane played for the TPR Jacks youth baseball team.

Cobb finished 1-for-3 with one RBI last week.

He played catcher the first four innings.

"At an early age, he played travel ball with my kids," John Bussard said. "We were still living in Gustine. Obviously, he's put in a lot of time in the weight room. The kid can flat hit."

"Lane's a great athlete," Brad Bussard said. "He's a very good catcher. He's got a strong arm. He hits well. He's a great all-round player."

The East never trailed in beating the West.

Brad Bussard accounted for the game's first run as the East built a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

The West evened the score at 2-2 in the third inning.

The East tallied four runs in the fourth inning and added one more in the seventh.

"We played against the best of the best," Brad Bussard said. "It was a good challenge."

"It's a lot of fun being around kids from other schools," John said. "Obviously, we had some quality ball players. Our guys played really well."

The 2015 edition of the Modesto Sunrise Rotary Classic was staged in Turlock. Previous all-star games were held at the Modesto Nuts' stadium.

"We played at a different venue," John said. "They've done a beautiful job renovating that place."

Led by four-year contributors Brad, Brent and Brett, Ceres High's baseball program captured its second straight WAC crown (11-1) during the springtime.

The Bulldogs went 23-7 and advanced to the semifinal round of the Division-IV playoffs.

Brad was voted WAC MVP.

He batted .450 with three triples, four doubles, 19 RBIs, 15 runs and 10 stolen bases.

A standout pitcher, Brad had a perfect 5-0 record with a 1.18 ERA, three complete games and 34 strikeouts.

Brett earned first-team all-league honors for the third year in a row.

Conway batted .316 with one triple, one double, 17 RBIs, six runs and one stolen base.

Brent batted .222 with one double, six RBIs and eight RBIs.

Stahl was named WAC Pitcher of the Year. The transfer from Beyer had a 6-0 record with a 0.36 ERA, four complete games and 53 strikeouts.

Drew also starred on offense. Stahl batted .515 with one homer, three doubles, eight RBIs and 11 runs.

The Cobb-led Huskies compiled a 19-4 overall record, claimed the Trans-Valley League crown (14-1) and fell one win shy of earning the right to play for the Division-V championship.

The East squad will represent Stanislaus County this Saturday at Merced College.

They'll compete against the Merced All-Stars.

"It's another opportunity to play and for these kids to show off their talents," John said.

Brad, Brent and Brett will team up for the final time at the prep level.

They've been teammates for the past seven years, including four at Ceres High, two with the Wolfpack and one with the Smash.

John Bussard will coach his two sons, Brad and Brent, one last time.

"It's going to be a tough moment," Brad said. "But our focus has to be on the game."