Former Bulldogs’ All-American Phillip Thomas made an impression, on and off the field

Former Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas has made an impression in mini camp and OTAs with the Washington Redskins, and there is a chance the fourth-round draft pick could be starting very early in the season.

Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, another rookie defensive back with the Redskins, did a Google hangout with some fans and media members for the Washington Post this week, touching on a wide variety of subjects including … Chicken McNuggets.

Thomas said he was headed back to Fresno to workout with some of his former teammates before the start of camp – probably a good thing.





Bulldogs’ offensive line could get a little lighter with loss of recruit from 2013 class

Fresno State will open fall camp on Aug. 1, likely without offensive tackle Kolby Drew, a transfer from Palomar College and one of six offensive linemen in its 2013 recruiting class. According to sources, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Drew is unlikely to enroll in school because of a family issue.

Drew was an intriguing prospect for the Bulldogs, who have depth issues in their offensive line. Despite playing for a team that went only 4-6 and 2-4 in the Southern Conference, he was a first-team all-conference and all-state selection by the California Community College Football Coaches Association.

The Bulldogs also lost interior lineman Patrick Kim, a mid-year transfer from Mount San Antonio College, who was forced to take a medical retirement after sustaining a neck injury in a non-contact drill during spring practice.

Central Section qualifiers for Saturday’s state track finals

CENTRAL SECTION QUALIFIERS for Saturday’s finals of the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan’s Veterans Memorial Stadium (with their qualifying marks):

Field events begin at 4:30 p.m., track at 6 p.m.

BOYS (24)

400: Joe Herrera, jr., Western, *48.08

800: Ivan Gonzalez, sr., Ridgeview, 1:51.60

1,600: Blake Haney, jr., Stockdale, 4:13.05; Cody Brazeal, Buchanan, 4:14.92

3,200: Blake Haney, sr., Stockdale, 9:09.96; Connor Nolen, jr., Clovis North, 9:19.28; Jose Herrera, sr., Madera South, 9:25.00

400 relay: Edison, 41.65; Central, 42.16

1,600 relay: Clovis, *3:17.62

Long jump: David Booker, sr., Western, 23-0; Scotty Newton, jr., Bakersfield, 23-0; Joey Souza, soph., Kingsburg, 22-11 1/2; Donte McDaniel, sr., Selma, 22-10 1/4

Triple jump: Scotty Newton, jr., Bakersfield, 48-1 3/4; Darius Armstead, sr., Mt. Whitney, 47-9 1/4; Matt Bowen, jr., Buchanan, 47-5

High jump: Taylor Smith, sr., Buchanan, 6-7; L.J. Moore, sr., Central, 6-7; Jonathan Moore, sr., Independence

Pole vault: Brad Beekman, sr., Clovis East, 15-5 3/4

Discus: Colton Foster, jr., Frontier, 172-1; Brad Beekman, sr., Clovis East, 171-9; Matt Smith, soph., Bakersfield Christian, 169-9

GIRLS (18)

100: Jazmen Bunch, jr., Edison, 11.73

400: Hannah Waller, frosh., Buchanan, 55.59

800: Mikaela Smith, soph., Clovis North, *2:10.63

1,600: Ali Teliha, sr., Bullard, 4:57.23

3,200: Hagen Reedy, sr., Buchanan, 10:49.52; Leigh Moffett, jr., Clovis North, 10:50.59; Mikayla Sodersten, frosh., Clovis, 10:53.78

100 high hurdles: Morganne Hill, soph., Liberty-Bak., *14.14

300 low hurdles: Morganne Hill, soph., Liberty-Bak., *42.43

400 relay: Edison, 46.45

1,600 relay: Edison, #*3:44.75; Buchanan, 3:50.65

Long jump: Rhesa Foster, frosh., Clovis North, 18-4 1/2; Maciah Murray, jr., Edison, 17-11

Shot put: Nikki Okwelogu, sr., Clovis West, 45-10 3/4; Amarie Bremel, sr., Kingsburg, 40-9 1/2

Discus: Nikki Okwelogu, sr., Clovis West, *170-6; Rae Blansett, jr., Liberty-Bak., 138-7

# — Central Section record
* — School record

Imminent: Death, taxes and Tony Amundsen hired by Clovis North

Bullard boys basketball coach Tony Amundsen will be approved as Clovis North’s coach Wednesday by the Clovis Unified school board.

Tony Amundsen will be approved as Clovis North’s boys basketball coach Wednesday by the Clovis Unified school board in a high-profile switch that’s become as given as it is comical, really.

Unless, of course, you’re associated with Bullard’s program, which is taking a hit unlike any in school history in regard to coaches.

Consider my exchange Friday night with Clovis North athletic director Eric Swain at the state track and field meet at Buchanan:

Me: “So, Eric, is the Amundsen hire official?”

Swain (smiling): “The forwarded candidate will be approved Wednesday by the board.”

Me (laughing with the most rhetorical question of my 40-year reporting career): “So, who’s the ‘forwarded candidate?’”

Swain (laughing): “Cmon, buddy.”

And away goes Amundsen, who made that intention clear two weeks ago, when he told The Bee he wanted the Clovis North job because of an “overwhelming factor” — his family of five lives in that school’s attendance area. Further, that his oldest child, fifth-grader Cadee, will be on campus with him in the fall of 2014 at the Clovis North Educational Center, which combines Granite Ridge Intermediate and the high school in northeast Fresno at International and Willow Avenues.

What an enormous blow for not only Bullard, but the County/Metro Athletic Conference and Fresno Unified School District as well.

Understand this: A typical tenured teacher/coach in the district makes about $75,000.

Amundsen is worth double that, if not more, considering the following his teams have drawn from home to road to Selland Arena in a 119-38, five-year career with three consecutive Division I titles at the school.

There’s no doubt Bullard, a melting pot for basketball talent not only within its attendance area but Fresno Unified (see transfers), will replace Amundsen with a quality coach.

But, as Knights athletic director Doug Finks says, “You can’t bottle lightening.”

And Amundsen brought serious thunder and lightening to a program that not long ago could hosted a card game (one table, 10 players) at its home  games.

Past couple years? Routine turnaway crowds of around 1,500.

“Tony has created a Bullard community phenomenon,” Finks says. “What he’s done transcends basketball.”

Kemp, Labosky, Wheeless land top TRAC baseball honors

Buchanan junior center fielder Trenton Kemp shares the Tri-River Athletic Conference Player of the Year award with Clovis North junior pitcher/third baseman Jack Labosky.

Juniors Trenton Kemp of Buchanan and Jack Labosky of Clovis North shared the Tri-River Athletic Conference Player of the Year honor.

Clovis North’s Jack Labosky powered the Broncos to the Central Section D-I title.

League champion Buchanan also landed top honors with junior Pitcher of the Year Jack Wheeless and Coach of the Year Tom Donald.

Find me another league in the state, by the way, where Clovis’ Jake Gatewood (USC) makes second team and Clovis North’s Christian Rossi (Fullerton) is shut out.

Just sayin.

All-TRAC first team:

Buchanan: Colton Worthington, Connor Loeprich; Clovis: McCarthy Tatum, Logan Poisall, Alan Crowley; Clovis North: Daniel Gardner, Braden Frankfort; Clovis West: Marco Pierce, Christian Funk.

Second team:

Buchanan: Collin Winn, Kody Batesole; Clovis: Jacob Gatewood, R.J. Hartmann; Clovis North: Koby Cummings, Nick Perez; Central: Donovan Failla; Clovis East: Jarrett Kirby, Nathan Case; Clovis West: Jon Schafer.

DeRuyter summer tour to begin

Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter will begin his summer stops throughout the Valley, starting Monday in Visalia.

DeRuyter will hold five meet-and-greet events and discuss some of the goals and expectations going into this season. The Bulldogs, who won a share of the Mountain West title last season in DeRuyter’s first season, will aim for an outright championship this coming year and perhaps grander goals there after.

Each stop is open to the public and fans are welcome to stop by, and get autographs and take photos.

Here are DeRuyter’s scheduled stops while he visits the Valley:

Monday (11 a.m.-1 p.m.) — Lunch Meet and Greet at The Planing Mill – Artesian Pizzeria in downtown Visalia
Tuesday (4-6 p.m.) — Afternoon Meet and Greet at the Firestone Walker Taproom in Paso Robles
Wednesday (4-6 p.m.) – Me-n-Ed’s Meet and Greet in Bakersfield (9000 Ming Ave)
Friday (9-11 a.m.) — Morning Meet and Greet at Madera Auto Center

Friday, (3-6 p.m.) Buffalo Wild Wings Meet and Greet in Fresno

For more information about each stop, contact (559) 278-DOGS.

Friday (4-6 p.m.) – Buffalo Wild Wings Meet and Greet in Fresno – Happy Hour

Salazar has predraft workout with Braves, Giants next

Kerman High pitcher Carlos Salazar flew across country and back all within a 24-hour span to throw 24 pitches before the Atlanta Braves brain trust.

Salazar, a potential first or second-round pick for next week’s MLB Amateur Draft, was among 20 to 25 players who were invited to Atlanta for a pre-draft workout with the Braves on Tuesday morning.

Salazar’s fastball registered as fast as 93 mph, though he’s thrown as fast as 98 during the season, according to Lions coach Jay Preuss.

The Braves have taken a keen interest in Salazar all year, following him throughout his senior season with as many as three scouts.

“They said they really liked what they saw,” said Preuss, who also flew to Atlanta for Salazar’s workout. Unlike Salazar, though, Preuss’ trip was not paid for by the Braves.

“It was about 6 in the morning California time when he was throwing for them, so he wasn’t at his very best; he wasn’t as alert as he’d usually be,” Preuss added. “I spoke to their West Coast cross checker, talked to the assistant GM. They’re very interested in Carlos.”

The Braves aren’t the only ones.

Salazar, who signed with Fresno State, is scheduled to next pitch before San Francisco Giants personnel at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at AT&T Park.

The Milwaukee Brewers also offered to fly out Salazar for a pre-draft workout, but he declined since it conflicted with Kerman’s graduation Thursday.

Nonetheless, Salazar appears to be leaning heavily on going pro and bypassing college baseball.

“They’ll wait till they have to make that decision sometime after the draft,” Preuss said. “If he’s drafted in the first day, I don’t think he’ll be a Bulldog.”

Salazar finished this past season at 10-2 with a 0.09 ERA and struck out 147 in 44 1/3 innings. He was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year for baseball on Tuesday.

Will Carlos Salazar pitch in City/County All-Star Baseball Game?

It’s uncertain if Kerman’s Carlos Salazar will pitch in the City/County All-Star Baseball Game June 9 at Chukchansi Park.

What’s the chances Kerman fireballer Carlos Salazar will pitch in the June 9 City/County All-Star Baseball Game a day following the conclusion of the Major League Amateur Draft?

“No way to tell yet,” Lions coach Jay Preuss says Sunday in Atlanta while awaiting the arrival of Salazar, who will have a private workout with Braves officials Tuesday at Turner Park.

Then the 6-foot, 210-pounder with a fastball that’s been clocked at 98 mph will audition for the Giants Friday morning at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

The most common projections have him going late in the first round June 6. First-round signing bonuses in 2012 ranged from $6 million to $1.525 million.

Should Salazar play for the County at Chukchansi Park, he’ll be one of the hottest drawing cards in the history of the game.

His showdown with Clovis’ Jake Gatewood drew a standing-room-only crowd of 2,500 on the Cougars’ field March 27 in the Fresno Easter Classic.

Gatewood pitched a no-hitter in a 1-0 Clovis win. Salazar gave up three hits, striking out 13 in 6 1/3 innings. His fastball touched 97 mph that morning.

City/County All-Star Baseball Game rosters


June 9, Chukchansi Park, 6:30 p.m.

Colton Worthington, Kody Batesole, Garrett Browning, Jeremy Vollberg, Collin Winn, Buchanan; Charles Rocha, Roosevelt; Logan Handzlik, Craig Handzlik, Kyle Hansen, Hoover; A.J. Ferdinandi, Cameron Garver, Christian Merrick, Memorial; Marco Pierce, Joey Gallegos, David Lima, Clovis West; Daniel Gardner, Christian Rossi, C.J. Taggett, Nick Perez, Clovis North; Brett Bausman, Aaron Simms, Jonathan Coleman, Niko Pacheco, Bullard; Victor Avila, Sunnyside; Jorge Alvarado, Brandon Acosta, Leonard Stuckey, Fresno; Jarrett Kirby, Mark Trujillo, Clovis East; Logan Poisall, McKay France, Hugh Awtrey, Clovis; Fernando Martinez, McLane; Deondre Howard, Edison.

Coaches: Jason and Ken Papi, Fresno

Gene Cachu, Adam Rivera, Dinuba; Scott Roberts, Michael Say, Madera; Dallin Cornelious, Kason Fite, Caruthers; Roman Ortiz, Selma; Josh Montelongo, Sanger; Connor Brogden, Anthony Garcia, Liberty-Madera Ranchos; Dalton Irlart, Chris Schrader, Kingsburg; Garrett Martin, Casey Blunt, Sierra; Danny Perez, Juan Garcia, Firebaugh; Erik Pincus, Minarets; Adam Mancillas, Washington; Logan Wynn, Dustin Pfarr, Tim Broaddus Lemoore; Adriano Coronado, Derrick Perez, Madera South; Carlos Salazar, Eric Montero, Adrian Flores, Nick Flores, Kerman; Sean Kinsley, Dustin Gaither, Chowchilla; Matthew Nunes, Fowler; Jason Woodard, Brian Cleland, Kyle Clolkosz, Rene Gutierrez, Central.

Coach: John Hollett, Selma

MW Tournament: Top-seed New Mexico falters under pressure, as Aztecs escape with 8-7 win

For two games, New Mexico didn’t have much to sweat. The Lobos had fallen behind in the top of the first inning of their first game at the Mountain West Conference Tournament when Nevada designated hitter Hugo Hernandez hit a two-run homer, but trailed for all of maybe 10 minutes. They tied the score in the bottom of that inning, took a lead the next and were up through that game and a win over UNLV.

It appeared they would make quick work of San Diego State on Saturday in the championship game, as well, taking a three-run lead in the very first inning. But the Aztecs worked their way back and into a lead on a booming three-run homer by Matt Munoz in the fifth inning and once challenged, the Lobos lacked the necessary response in falling 8-7 at Beiden Field.

New Mexico and San Diego State, the No. 1 and No. 3 seeds, will play a final game in the double-elimination tournament on Sunday at 1 p.m., the winner taking the automatic bid into a NCAA Regional.

Opportunity was there for New Mexico (37-19). But the Lobos failed to score with runners at first and second and one out in the fifth inning, with the bases loaded and only one out in the seventh and could come up with only one run in the eighth when again leaving the bases loaded.

San Diego State left-hander Mike Robards, in his sixth inning of work, gave up a run in the ninth, but with the bases loaded got Chase Harris to ground into a game-ending double play.

‘’When you have those big situation, you just kind of take a deep breath, take a step out and just realize, hey, if I make good pitches here, keep the ball down and good things are going to happen,’’ said Robards, who threw 123 pitches in getting through 5 2/3 innings and some huge messes.

‘’That’s what I kept telling myself – keep the ball down and things were going to work out, let my defense play. I wasn’t trying to blow away these guys, obviously. These are the best hitters in the nation, so I was just trying to work the process and luckily it went well for me.’’

San Diego State (30-29) had to beat UNLV to get a shot at New Mexico for the MW Tournament title, winning that game Saturday afternoon 6-2. But the Aztecs, who before Saturday had been above the .500 mark only once this month, had plenty left.

They scored one run in the second another in the third and then in the fifth blasted its way into the lead. Danny Sheehan opened the inning with a walk against the Lobos’ Kevin Baumgartner and Tim Zier doubled to put runners at second and third. Ryan Muno then walked, loading the bases, and that was the end of Baumgartner, who had an ERA of 7.76 during the regular season.

Jonathan Cuellar came on and gave up a run on a sacrifice fly by Tyler France and Munoz followed with his three-run homer over the wall in left center.

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