Friends & Family Help Celebrate Bulldog Victory

June 27, 2008 8:23:37 AM PDT
Many of the players grew up right here in the Valley and their family members and childhood friends anxiously watched last night's game.One of the many things that makes this team so special is the fact that all of the players are from California. So, many of their friends and family members don't have far to go to celebrate with the athletes.

That includes the families of two north valley standouts who knew a little something about being Bulldogs before they ever arrived at Fresno State.

Before Tommy Mendonca was named most outstanding player of the College World Series and before Blake Amador became a National Champion, both athletes played for the Bulldogs at Turlock High School.

Rob Mendonca: "Both outstanding players Blake was a centerfielder here and one of the best defensive center fielders we've had. Tom played short and pitched a little bit."

Rob Mendonca coached both athletes during his tenure as Turlock's head baseball coach. And he also happens to be Tommy's uncle.

Rob Mendonca: "I was definitely a lot harder on him because I didn't want anyone saying he got a break or special treatment, and it was tough, it was tough the first year and he realized I was doing it for the best, and he's accomplished quite a bit so I'm real proud of him."

Tommy and Blake were also Football Conference Champions at Turlock High. Their former football coach has a fear of flying so he and Mendonca drove 23 hours to Omaha to show their support.

Rob Mendonca: "We came back mid week but we've been watching every game and taping them, and it's exciting."

Assistant Principal Joe Cusenza also watched every game of the series. He says Tommy and Blake were great high school athletes and students, and now they've become excellent role models.

Joe Cusenza: "I'm sure there's a lot of ideas going through a lot of coaches minds, a lot of teachers minds right now to get those guys back to do clinics, to show our young kids what it's like to be a Bulldog and to go on to be a Red Bulldog."

Rob Mendonca tried calling his nephew after the championship Wednesday night, but he says Tommy's voicemail was full with 72 messages.

But he's planning to come here to congratulate Tommy and the rest of the team on their history making victory.


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