Reedley College’s Ruffino reflects on state championship victory

Jacob Ruffino

Reedley College’s Jacob Ruffino never anticipated finishing near the top of the Junior College men’s state golf championships last week.

But a first place finish? Never in his wildest dreams.

Ruffino captured the state championships, finishing two-strokes ahead of Canyons’ Sidney Wolf on the Rancho Canada Golf Club course in Carmel.

Ruffino, who had a 4-under par first round, had a two-day total 137.

Question: Before you golfed at the state championships, did you see yourself finishing on top?

Answer: No. Not really. The thought crossed my mind a few times, but I never thought about it for more than few seconds.

How did you stay relaxed during your rounds?

Singing a song in my head actually. It helps keep my mind off of things.

You shot a 74 at NorCal and had a much better score at state. What worked for you?

I played better than I scored at NorCal, so I just told myself that my game was there and I just needed to stay patient and keep the same mindset I had at NorCal, and it’ll all work out.

How long have you played golf?

My dad got me started when I was young, probably around 7 or 8. But I started taking it serious in junior high.

Did you win any tournaments before the state championship?

I won the 14-15 year-old age division at a JGANC tournament at Sierra Meadows, but nothing other than that.

How did you end up at Reedley College?

Coach (Scott) Stark called me during my senior season and talked to me about the opportunity. He got me excited about playing there and I thought it would be the best for me.

How much did you learn and who would you credit your success to?

I’ve learned so much about how to trust myself and how much being positive really helps. I would credit my success to my dad. Without his faith in me and his push, I wouldn’t be where I am.

FCC men’s tennis look to repeat as state champions

Sam Bertram

Top-ranked and undefeated Fresno City College had its way with California’s other JC men’s tennis teams during the season. Now the Rams will look to finish with back-to-back championships.

Fresno City faces host Ventura in the title match at 1 p.m. today at Pierpont Racquet Club, with the state team and individual championships being played out as part of the Ojai Tournament.

“We definitely have to play well,” coach Steve Loop said. “They’re very good and playing on their court will present a challenge for us.”

The Rams (18-0) won the NorCal title with a 5-0 weekend sweep of region No. 2-seeded American River. The SoCal No. 1 Pirates (18-2) edged No. 3 San Diego Mesa 5-3. Fresno City beat Ventura 6-3 earlier this year.

Fresno City entered the season loaded, with four players back from a 2012 undefeated campaign capped by a 5-4 state-championship victory over Mt. San Jacinto.

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MMA: Hanford fighter Chad Mendes back in octagon Saturday for UFC on Fox 7

Chad Mendes is eager to get back in the octagon.

It has been four months since the UFC featherweight fighter from Hanford has fought.

“I’ve been waiting for a while,” Mendes told “Pretty sick of training.”

Since a December fight against Yaotzin Meza — whom Mendes knocked out in the first round — Mendes has had three fights lined up but never happen because of injuries to his opponents.

Mendes (13-1) doesn’t have to wait any longer, facing Darren Elkins on Saturday at HP Pavilion in San Jose on the preliminary card for UFC on FOX 7. His fight will be on FX starting at 2 p.m.

Elkins (17-2) hasn’t had a lengthy wait like Mendes, facing Antonio Carvalho last month and winning by technical knockout in the first round.

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NFL set to release schedule today but who will play on MNF opener?

In several hours, the NFL is set to release the 2013 NFL schedule.

Originally the NFL was to have released the schedule on Tuesday but opted to wait two more days.

NFL fans have always circled the calendar a week before the NFL draft to see who will play each week.

But who will play on the MNF doubleheader?

It will likely not be any of these teams: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Oakland and San Diego.

Last season, the Ravens routed the Bengals 44-13. Then the Chargers came away with a 22-14 road victory. Sure, the Raiders have played on the MNF opener the past two seasons, but I don’t see it happening this year because of a subpar 2012 season.

What’s more attractive?

If I was a schedule maker I would put these four teams on MNF: Denver at New England and Seattle at San Francisco.

You’ve got Welker returning to Foxborough and another Brady vs. Manning. Then you have the 49ers and Seahawks who both made key acquisitions in the offseason.

The AFC West had teams in the MNF opener the past five seasons. The last time the NFC West had teams playing in the opener was in 2007 when San Francisco defeated Arizona, 20-17.

The defending champion Baltimore Ravens will open on the road because the Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles has a home game. But where will the Ravens play?

My guess is they will visit Pittsburgh. Bitter rivals. Enough said.

Who would you like to see play on the opening weekend of MNF?

Fresno City baseball player Jackson Glines gives oral commitment to Michigan

Jackson Glines

Fresno City College outfielder Jackson Glines (Yosemite) gave an oral commitment to Michigan on Wednesday morning.

After the Rams’ 15-8 victory over West Hills on Saturday, Glines gathered his belongings and headed to Fresno Yosemite International Airport and left for a weekend visit in Ann Arbor.

Glines said he liked what he saw on campus and that was more than enough to convince him that he wanted to become a Wolverine.

The sophomore is batting .369 with three home runs, eight doubles and 18RBIs for Fresno City.

Rams’ Topoozian goes the distance in Thursday’s win

Dominic Topoozian

When Fresno City College baseball coach Ron Scott looked at Dominic Topoozian’s pitch count in the Rams’ 3-2 victory in 10 innings on Thursday over West Hills, he figured he might as well leave him in.

The freshman right-handed pitcher out of Buchanan High threw 103 pitches and struck out four, helping Fresno City to 7-3 victory in a Central Valley Conference game.

His Rams then completed a three-game sweep Saturday, with a 15-8 victory against the Falcons.

“He was in total control,” Scott said. “That’s not very many pitches for him.”

Topoozian said he’s thrown complete games before — albeit a seven-inning game for the Bears — but a 10-inning game? That was new.

“That was pretty crazy,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to go 10 but I knew the game was close and we came back and I think he wanted me to get the win. I could’ve went 11, but it was pretty cool. I’ve never done that”

Fresno City helped Topoozian in the 10th inning by scoring four runs.

Topoozian gave up one hit in the first three innings, but the Falcons took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning — all unearned — but after that, Topoozian settled in.

Topoozian is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA.

Fuego move on to final of U.S. Open Cup qualifying on April 27

Tyler Reinhart recorded a hat trick Saturday in the Fresno Fuego’s 10-2 victory over Cap FC of Sacramento in a U.S. Open Cup qualifier at Clovis East High.

The Fuego advanced to the qualifying tournament final against the winner between Los Gatos or San Ramon FC. The match will take place at Chukchansi Park on April. 27.

The winner of that match will be entered in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play-in round on May 7 against an opponent from the National Premier Soccer League.

This is the second year that U.S. Club Soccer has put together a qualifying tournament to determine its lone entry in the U.S. Open Cup from eight clubs comprised from teams in the Northern California Premier Soccer League.

The Fuego advanced to the final with a 1-0 win over Los Gatos, a 2-2 tie with Stanislaus and a 3-1 victory against Bullard.

Fresno opens the Premier Development League season May 4 against host Los Angeles. The Fuego’s PDL home opener is May 9 against the BYU Cougars.

Slow start finally gets to Fresno Pacific men’s basketball team

Fresno Pacific and Matt Samuels, driving against Hawaii Hilo’s C.J. Brown on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013, will play in the consolation final at the NCCAA national championships on Saturday. (CRAIG KOHLRUSS/THE FRESNO BEE)

Slow starts lately plagued the Fresno Pacific men’s basketball team, and that was a concern for Sunbirds coach Chris Wright. But usually the Sunbirds would kick-start in the second half and end up winning.

That sort of happened Thursday, but the outcome was different this time.

Shorter (Ga.) jumped out to a 28-12 lead in the first half en route to to a 104-95 victory over the Sunbirds in the National Christian College Athletic Association Tournament semifinal in Winona Lake, Ind.

“Started slow again,” Fresno Pacific coach Chris Wright said. “We couldn’t get over the hump.”

The Hawks built a 54-39 halftime lead, but the Sunbirds went on a 11-0 run to open the second half and later cut Shorter lead to 54-50. The Hawks then took control with 12:52 left in the half on a pair of free-throws by Dedric Ware for a 65-54 lead.

Sunbirds guard John Taylor, coming off a 50 point outing against Roberts Wesleyan, was in foul trouble all game and Malcolm Griffin did all he could finishing with a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds. Taylor chipped in with 27 points and Matt Samuels added 16.

“Our guys battled hard,” Wright said. “But you can’t spot a good team with 14 points in the first 6 minutes and recover easily.”

The Hawks, who will play for the national title on Saturday, had all five starters score in double figures, led by Anthony Banks who finished with 28 points.

The Sunbirds (21-8) will play for the consolation championship against the loser of No. 2 Cedarville and No. 3 Oklahoma Christian at 7 a.m. PDT Saturday.

Sunbirds punch ticket to NCCAA men’s nationals in Indiana

Fresno Pacific head coach Chris Wright makes a call from the bench during their game against Hawaii Hilo at Fresno Pacific Monday, January 14, 2013.

The Fresno Pacific men’s basketball team beat Azusa Pacific on Wednesday and is now headed to the National Christian College Athletic Association finals on March 13-16 in Winona Lake, Ind.

The Sunbirds built a 53-35 lead against Azusa but were facing foul trouble to two of their starters. Malcolm Griffin and Antonio Credit each had four fouls, but coach Chris Wright decided to keep them in with 16 minutes remaining.

“Rolled the dice,” he said. “Fortunately, it worked out for us.”

Azusa Pacific rallied to cut the halftime deficit to 57-46, then went ahead 72-70 on Troy Leaf’s three-point play with 14:14 remaining in the game.

The Sunbirds led 86-85 with 7:39 remaining, but Griffin’s dunk capped a 9-2 run that made it 95-87 with 5:24 left.

After Azusa got within 106-103 with 28 seconds left, Taylor hit 1 of 2 free throws and Matt Samuels hit a pair to seal he Sunbirds’ 20th win.

“Twenty wins is special,” Wright said. “I’m excited for us to get to Indiana. It will be fun to compete for a national title.”

Taylor finished with 39 points, Samuels added 20 and Griffin chipped in with 19.

The Sunbirds (20-7) will find out Sunday who they will play on March 13. Fresno Pacific will likely be one of the top seeds in the eight-team tournament at Grace College.

Sunbirds’ Taylor eclipses single-season scoring mark

Fresno Pacific’s John Taylor puts up a three-point attempt over Hawaii Hilo’s Paul Batausa in their game at Fresno Pacific Monday, January 14, 2013.

John Taylor is making things look easy in the Pacific West Conference.

In his first season with the Sunbirds, the ex-national JC Player of the Year’s scored 41 points Tuesday, pushing him to the top of the school’s single-season scoring chart as the Sunbirds routed Notre Dame de Namur 103-86 in Belmont.

Taylor has 641 points, surpassing the 637 that James Lewis had in the 2008-09 season. Taylor became just the third player in school history to reach 600 points in a season on Saturday.

The Sunbirds improved to 18-7 and 13-4, but the night belong to Taylor.

“He’s a special player that only comes along so often,” Sunbirds coach Chris Wright said. “I’m extremely proud of him and what he has accomplished this season.”

Taylor, who guided Mott Community College in Flint Mich. to a 35-1 record and NJCAA National Championship, will look to add to his point total when Fresno Pacific wraps up the regular season Saturday, hosting Cal Baptist at 4:30 p.m.

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