When Bakersfield Christian head coach Mark Ratekin saw his team seeded No. 9 in the Central Section Division IV playoffs last weekend, another home game again this season seemed unexpected.
But the Eagles did their part with an 11-1 win over Wasco on Wednesday in the opening round and No. 16 Madera South upset No. 1 Hanford-Sierra Pacific in extra innings to gift the Eagles a home game in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Then the heavy rainfall overnight left Ratekin questioning whether his team could play Friday.
But the skies cleared, the ground dried and the BCHS prevailed in an 11-4 victory and will play at No. 5 Porterville-Monache in the semifinals on Wednesday. No. 7 Chowchilla is at No. 6 Fowler in the other semifinal game.
Despite the low seed, the weather concerns and young team that lost two seniors to knee injuries, Ratekin said getting to this point was always the plan.
“That was our goal,” Ratekin said. “We are taking it one game at a time. But we didn’t expect to have a home game, but it was nice to have one. We were focused on whoever we would play.”
As unexpected as BCHS (16-14) was to have a playoff home game, seeing Madera South in the playoffs in general could be seen as a head scratcher.
The Stallions had just five wins in the regular season and went winless in County-Metro Athletic Conference play. But in a season where the top two seeds in D-III and the top-seed in D-IV were ousted in the first round, anything seems possible.
So does BCHS having a shot at a section title with a starting lineup that had no seniors, six juniors, two sophomores and a standout freshman.
But sometimes that’s the recipe for success, blind confidence that anything can happen.
When Cole Wattenembarger and Everett Johnson, both captains, both tore their ACLs, Ratekin had to find replacements quickly.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity this year,” Ratekin said. “We made some adjustments and some younger players stepped up. I think we are improving each game and don’t think we have peaked yet.”
One of the juniors for BCHS (16-14) is starting catcher Chrisitian Wilson, who had to sit out the first month after transferring from Garces where he helped lead the Rams to the D-III title last season.
Wilson sees a lot of promise in this Eagles team, and not just for the future, but now.
“This team has a lot of fight,” Wilson said. “We want it bad.”
Wilson scored twice and drove in two runs on a single during a six-run sixth inning that broke the game open for BCHS.
Freshman Evan Cloyd had three RBIs and had three hits while reaching base on all four plate appearances and may follow his older brother to D-I college baseball.
Ethan Cloyd is a senior at Los Olivos-Dunn on the central coast and is signed to play at the University of California.
“(Evan) is an amazing player and he’s improved so much over the season,” Ratekin said. “He’s just got that mentality where he’s focused and knows what he needs to do and he does it.”
One game removed from a section title appearance for the first time in eight seasons, the Eagles seemed prepared for anything coming their way because that’s the nature of the season for BCHS.
“We’ve played well on the road this year and we are going to work hard and go out there and do our best,” Ratekin said.