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Chester wins sectional playoff game. Photo submitted

Here come the Volcanoes


By Mari Erin Roth

[email protected]

Chester beats Biggs to win Section Playoff Game, 11-9

 The Chester High School Volcanoes made their way to the final playoff with a win over the Biggs Wolverines on May 16. The Vols were victorious over the Wolverines the last time they met —way back in the beginning of the season on March 3 — by a score of 5-1. On May 16 there was much more at stake as the teams came together for a rematch on the CIF Sectionals playoff ladder to fight for one of the two top spots. Biggs showed their colors of growth, determination, and intention in the top of the first inning by putting 5 runs on the scoreboard. They were fierce in their defense, too, holding the Volcanoes to just 2 runs when CHS came to bat. The Wolverines added two more runs in the top of the 2nd inning, widening their lead to 7-2, and held the Vols fast, allowing zero runs for Chester in the bottom of the inning. CHS revved up their own defense in the top of the third inning and the tide began to turn. Biggs was able to add nothing to the board and Chester began to catch up by scoring 3 runs, 7-5. It was a stand-off of wills in the 4th inning with neither team permitting movement on the scoreboard. Biggs added a run in the top of the fifth and Chester inched closer adding 2 runs, 8-7. Biggs was able to score one run in the top of the sixth but that is where the coin finally flipped in favor of the Volcano boys. CHS pushed hard and added 4 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning for the final winning score of 11-9. Defense skills won out in the 7th inning played, but without any adjustments to the score. “The boys were tight in the beginning spotting Biggs 5 runs in the 1st,” said CHS head baseball coach Mike Klimek. “In classic Volcano fashion they started chipping away and showed what they’re made of. The boys showed their resilience coming through in the clutch with a two-out four-run rally in the bottom of the 6th.“

Game detail breakdown

Similar to the Vols win over Quincy in the league championship game, the Biggs Wolverines came to town swinging, sending 5 runs over the plate in the top of the first inning on 3 hits, 2 BB, 1 HBP, and 1 Volcano error, for the 5-0 lead. CHS answered with 2 runs in the bottom of the inning on a single by Volcano Caiden Clark, a double by Lucas Klimek to score Clark, and a double by Connor Barr scoring Klimek. After one inning of play the Wolverines maintained their lead, 5-2. “Familiar territory for the Volcanoes,” said coach Klimek.

In the top of the 2nd inning, Biggs Brady Smith lead off with a single, followed by a double by Emiliano Bermudez. The Volcanoes registered 2 outs on a strikeout by Vols starting pitcher Kooper Clark and a line out to 2nd baseman Chase Clark. Biggs Matt Martin then singled to drive in Smith and Bermudez.  The Vols could not produce any runs in the bottom of the 2nd and the inning ended, Biggs 7-2.

The Wolverines were held scoreless in the top of the 3rd inning as Volcano pitcher Jax Holland relieved Kooper Clark. “Holland retired the side in the 3rd without giving up a run,” said CHS assistant baseball coach George Wellman.  In the Vols half of the inning, Kooper Clark doubled to left center, and Lucas Klimek followed with his 2nd double in two at bats to drive in Clark.” Biggs maintained their lead, 7-3. Jax Holland singled, advancing Klimek to 3rd base, giving the Vols runners at the corners,” said Wellman. “Chase Clark moved to the plate and worked a long count for a walk. A wild pitch allowed Klimek to score from 3rd base.” The Vols inched closer to Biggs, 7-4.  Stealth Volcanoes Holland and Clark advanced to 3rd and 2nd on consecutive steals. Holland was called out attempting to advance for the second out. Jacob Dowling came to bat and on his 0-2 count Clark stole 3rd base. With two strikes, Dowling grounded to the Wolverines shortstop resulting in an error and allowing Clark to score from 3rd base. Sophomore Callan Wiseman came to bat. Dowling was caught stealing for the 3rd out and the inning ended with the Wolverines still leading, 7-5. The Doldrums must have blown in from the Atlantic as neither team allowed the other to score in the 4th inning.

In the top of the 5th, Biggs Tim Felkins hit a home run to right field and upped Wolverine lead, 8-5. Volcano Jax Holland retired three of the next four batters without further runs scored. “The Vols came to bat in the bottom of the inning and scored 2 runs on walks by Lucas Klimek and Jax Holland and a two RBI double by Conner Barr,” reported Wellman. “Barr stole 3rd base, and Jacob Dowling and Callan Wiseman walked in the inning but were left on base.” The Vols continued to close the scoring gap but still trailed after 5 innings, 8-7. Any nailbiters in the crowd?

The tide finally shifts

Connor Barr fires over home plate as the Volcanoes take on the Portola Tigers in Portola on April 25. Barr was announced May 19 as the League MVP for 2023. Photo submitted

The Wolverines led off the top of the 6th inning with a walk by Biggs Zach Smith followed by a double hit by Davis Long. That put runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs for the Wolverines.  Volcano pitcher Connor Barr came in relief of Jax Holland.  BHS Martin was the first batter Barr faced and he hit a ground ball to CHS Lucas Klimek at 3rd base. “Klimek guns down Zack Smith attempting to score from 3rd base for the first out of the inning,” said Wellman. BHS Long advanced to 3rd on the play. With Rylan Jones at the plate for the Wolverines, Martin stole 2nd base and Long scored on the throw down. Barr proceeded to strikeout Jones for the second out.  After a walk to Felkins, Barr struck out Wolverine David Ibarra for the third out. The score was 9-7, Wolverines leading, as the Volcanoes came to bat in the bottom of the 6th inning.

The Biggs team may have had a sense of what was coming as they brought in relief pitcher Davis Long to face Caiden Clark leading off. Caiden singled on a 3-1 count. Kooper Clark, on a 1-1 count, popped out to the Wolverine 2nd baseman, Bermudez, and Clark was doubled off at 1st. “Two outs! Lucas Klimek came to the box swinging a hot bat and singled to left field for his third hit of the game,” said Wellman. “Jax Holland came to the plate and on a 1-2 count and doubled to right center to send Klimek home for a run.” The heat from the Volcanoes blew hot down the necks of the Wolverines. The score was 9-8 as Connor Barr stepped up to the plate. On the first pitch, Barr lined a double down the left field line to send Holland home with the tying Chester run, 9-9. “The Vols aren’t finished and kept clawing, jabbing, and punching at the competitive and tough Wolverines!” said Wellman. “It was evident the game was riding on which team had the guts, composure, and stamina to prevail.”

Next up in the batting lineup was CHS Chase Clark who hit a hard ground ball that was mishandled by the Wolverines 1st baseman. Clark advanced to 2nd base on the same play as Barr rounded third base for the 3rd run of the inning, 10-9, with the Vols taking the lead for the first time in the game. “I know the feeling, I know how it tastes, I know the adrenaline rush,” said Wellman. “The Vols were feeling it!” CHS Dowling strode to the plate and on his first pitch Clark stole 3rd base. On the next pitch, Dowling singled to center field allowing Clark to score, 11-9.  CHS junior Talon Pleau came in to pinch hit for Wiseman. On a 1-1 count, Dowling stole 2nd base. Pleau proceeded to walk on five pitches giving the Vols runners on 1st and 2nd with two outs and a two-run lead.  The inning ended when Dowling was thrown out attempting to advance to 3rd base on a pass ball. The Vols carried the 11-9 lead into the top of the 7th inning.

CHS senior Conner Barr took the mound in the 7th inning. His first batter was Wolverine Eddie Ayala who struck out swinging on three pitches. Wolverine Smith singled in the next at bat. Biggs was not going away easily. Next up, BHS Bermudez hit a hard ground ball that was not handled cleanly by Chase Clark at 2nd base, allowing Smith to advance to 2nd and Bermudez beat it out to 1st base. Two runners were on and there was just one out as the Vols tried to hold on to their lead of 11-9.  Kim Clark, mother of Chase and Caiden Clark, texted to Wellman during the game, “I have chills!”  Senior CHS pitcher Connor Barr rose to the occasion and struck out the next two batters to seal the win for the Volcanoes. The victory was booked as a 11-9 comeback win and advanced the Chester High School Volcanoes to the Section Championship game against the Etna Lions on May 20 in Etna.

“This nine-game win streak has been anchored in good pitching, solid defense, and timely disciplined hitting,” said head CHS baseball coach Klimek. “Very proud of these boys and we look forward to a rematch with the Etna Lions that should be a good dog fight between two solid teams!”

Assistant Wellman was not in attendance at the May 16 game with Biggs but was updated during the playoff via texts from team mom Kim Clark. “Kim (Clark) is well-known as the ultimate CHS Vols fan,” said Wellman who was at his grandson’s Chico Eastside Little League playoffs. “Kim called me when the game ended to tell me the Vols had won. (I) so appreciate Kim keeping me informed!”

MVP and All-League

Selections were announced May 19 and all the Chester High School Volcano nominations were voted in and agreed to by the league athletic directors. The League MVP is Chester Volcano Conner Barr.  All-League honorees are freshman Caiden Clark, sophomore Kooper Clark, junior Jax Holland, junior Lucas Klimek.  Honorable Mention is junior Jacob Dowling.




2 thoughts on “Here come the Volcanoes

  • Thank you Erin! So important to our young men knowing you care to report on their excellent season.

  • Just a note from an old(er) Volcano…..keep up the fight! Great article in support of CHS Baseball. Memories of those days still some of my best as both an athlete, long-time coach & Athletic Director and Administrator.

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