North Bay baseball in general and Petaluma baseball in particular has arrived.
Three teams from the North Bay have been chosen to participate in the 2018 Boras Baseball Classic. The 32-team invitational tournament is broken into a Northern and Southern Section with elite teams from each section crowning a champion and the two titleists playing for the unofficial state championship.
This year’s Northern California Section tournament will begin March 28 at McAuliffe Memorial Ballpark in El Dorado Hills near Sacramento. The field will include Casa Grande, Petaluma and Cardinal Newman.
Others in the field are defending champion Bellarmine Prep, Tracy, Davis, Stockdale, San Benito, St. Mary’s, Pleasant Valley, Sacred Heart Cathedral, Palo Alto, Franklin, Claremont, Woodcreek and tournament host Oak Ridge.
Casa Grande became the first Petaluma team to be invited to the tournament last season and paved the way for a return invitation and a trip for Petaluma and Cardinal Newman as well by finishing third.
Casa opened with a 22-9 thumping of Turlock and then lost a great game to eventual Northern California finalist Davis, 1-0, before bouncing back to defeat Granite Bay, 3-1, and Oak Ridge, 12-0.
“It feels good to be recognized,” said Dominic Wirtz, Casa Grande assistant coach. “For a long time, they (teams in the East Bay) didn’t know who we were. Now they know.”
The tournament was the highlight of a great season for the Gauchos, who finished with a 24-5 record and ranked No. 2 behind De La Salle among all schools in all divisions in the North Coast Section.
Things will be a little different for the Gauchos this spring. They have several quality players returning, but will be missing their coach of 23 years, Paul Maytorena, who has resigned because of work commitments. A replacement has not yet been named.
Jim Selvitella, now in his second season as Petaluma ooach, said the selection of Casa, Petaluma and Cardinal Newman says much about the quality of baseball in the North Bay.
“Three teams from the same area and two teams from the same town — it has never occurred before,” he said. “It is really exciting. It tells you what a baseball community we are.”
Selvitella said not only does participating in the Boras Tournament bring recognition to the area, but it also is great for the players. “I am most excited for the exposure and the experience the kids are going to get from playing against the best of the best,” he said.
The only negative for Selvitella is that he won’t have an opportunity to coach against his friend, Maytorena, in the tournament.
“I’m going to miss Paul,” the Petaluma coach said. “I was really looking forward to coaching against him not only this year, but in years to come. I completely understand his decision, but I will miss him.”
Selvitella quickly dismissed any thoughts that he might consider moving back to Casa where he coached for Maytorena before accepting the Petaluma job. “They will have a lot of good candidates for the job,” he quipped. “It is the second best baseball job in Petaluma.”