I’ve said before, and I firmly believe, that the first goal of every high school sports team is to win a North Coast Section championship. Right behind that lofty ambition is the target of a league championship. To go beyond NCS to a state title is so beyond the realm of possibility that it can’t even be considered at the start of a season. An NCS banner is a lofty but obtainable objective.
This year, the Petaluma and Casa Grande baseball teams can add another goal — to win the Boras Baseball Classic. The Boras Baseball Classic is, in effect, a private tournament to crown a de-facto state champion. Sixteen teams are handpicked from Northern California and 16 from Southern California. The top two teams from each section square off for the state championship.
The Boras Foundation chose Casa Grande as one of the top 16 teams in Northern California last season, and the Gauchos proved they belonged with the elite by winning two of three games, with their only loss coming to eventual tournament finalist Davis, 1-0.
The Gaucho success paved the way to not only them getting a return invitation, but to Petaluma High School also receiving an invite. It is a little mind-boggling to know that of the top 16 high school baseball teams in Northern California, two are from Petaluma.
In these days, when some sports crown “national” and “state” champions as readily as professional wrestling crowns “world” champions, it is reasonable to be skeptical about the Boras claim of crowning a “de facto” state champion. But the Boras Tournament is the real deal. A great amount of effort and thought go into the selection of the 16 teams in each field.
Since the tournament, of necessity, is held early in the season, there is no way of assuring that the field will be composed of the teams that will be the best at the end of the spring. But they will all come from solid programs that season after season produce championship quality teams.
Now in its sixth year, the tournament features some of the best prep talent in the state, a fact not lost on pro and college scouts.
The invitation to both Casa Grande and Petaluma is a tribute to not only those high school programs, but to the entire Petaluma baseball community, beginning with T-Ball and working up through Little League and travel ball.
By the time players become contributing members of the Casa and Petaluma varsity teams, they have a solid background in baseball fundamentals. They are ready for advanced placement courses like the Boras Tournament provides.
The tournament will be played March 26-29 at McAuliffe Fields in Sacramento, right next to Sacramento State University.
Casa Grande and Petaluma are in the same half of the bracket, meaning they could go head-to-head somewhere down the line.
Petaluma plays Woodcreek at 10 a.m. on March 27, while Casa Grande plays against St. Mary’s at 4 p.m on March 26.
Woodcreek is a Division 1 team from the Sierra Foothill League in the Sac-Joaquin Section. St. Mary’s is another Division 1 team from the Sac-Joaquin Section.
Further enhancing the reputation of North Bay baseball, Cardinal Newman has also been invited to the tournament. Other teams are defending North champion Bellarmine Prep, Oak Ridge, Davis, Tracy, Franklin, Pleasant Valley, Palo Alto, San Benito, Carlmont, Sacred Heart Cathedral and Stockdale.