Buy Photo

John Harte / Special to The Californian

Austin Toerner is congratulated by coach Mike Gibson and first baseman Andy Cantu after he pitched the sixth inning at Bakersfield Christian on May 15. Golden Valley won 2-0 behind a shutdown pitching performance by Austin Toerner and advanced to the Central Section Division IV baseball semifinals.

Golden Valley consistently makes the baseball playoffs, but this year marked the program's high-water mark:

A 22-12 season capped by its first Central Section title game appearance. Kerman won that game 3-0 to capture the Division IV title.

"To make it as far as we did was a big deal for these kids, and for me also," said Mike Gibson, who just completed his sixth season as the Builldogs coach. "What it does is raise the bar for our program."

Gibson is the BVarsity Boys Baseball Coach of the Year.

Golden Valley opened in 2003 and had never reached the baseball finals before. But the success wasn't a surprise, Gibson said.

"Two years ago we figured we had a special group of kids who came in as freshmen," he said. "They are all back next year. This was their junior year."

Golden Valley is in the South Yosemite League, and Ridgeview won the outright SYL title.

"We lost a couple of close games to Ridgeview, but we knew we could make a decent run in the playoffs," Gibson said. "It was not a huge surprise to make the finals."

Notable players who led the charge were No. 1 pitcher and center fielder Austin Toerner, outfielder-lefty pitcher Josh Hernandez, shortstop Elesam Sadang, sophomore catcher Pierre Morales and freshman infielder Chris Rodriguez.

The 2.10 team ERA ranked third in the county, and the Bulldogs averaged 5.9 runs per game.

-- Jeff Evans