Above: Maranatha hopes to end the season just like it did last year.
There’s little going on in area high school baseball as the CIF-Southern Section playoffs in divisions 3 and 5 begin today at 3:15 p.m. Most of the action comes Friday with divisions 2 and4.
Alhambra, Gabrielino and Maranatha are the lone teams playing today and all are at home. Perhaps more important is they all have serious heat on the mound that could translate to playoff success.
Alhambra (22-4) is the No. 2 seed in Division3 and a six-time defending Almont League champion. With a formidable pitching staff led by Jonathan Beltran and Greg Saldate, the Moors figure this is the year when playoff experience and confidence from a successful regular season will pay off, but they’ll have their hands full when they host La Serna (14-12-1) at Moor Field.
“They look a lot better than 14-12,” Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke said. “They play catch and have some good guys who can swing it. They’re well-coached and their three and four holes are legit.”
La Serna is led by Andrew Rosales, who is batting .543, and Nate Casillas, who is batting .412 with 20 RBIs, two home runs and five doubles.
For Alhambra, it starts on the mound with Beltran, who is 9-1 with a 1.60 ERA. Saldate is 6-1 with a 1.49 ERA in 56 innings. Beltran and Saldate have been productive, but La Serna is not a team to back down from a challenge.
“That program has won for a long time, so those kids are conditioned and expect to win,” Gewecke said. “I don’t think they’re going to be intimidated by us at all, not by our record or our ranking.”
Paraclete at Gabrielino: The Eagles (16-9) once again will rely on sophomore Angel Acosta to lead the way on the mound. He’s 9-4 with a 1.46 ERA and 130 strikeouts. Gabrielino last season was upset in the first round. Paraclete (15-9) features a future Division I pitcher in 6-foot-3 senior Tim Torsney. The Spirits of Lancaster finished second in the Alpha League and beat St. Joseph, 3-2, in a wild-card game Tuesday.
Calvary Murrieta vs. Maranatha at Jackie Robinson Field: Calvary Murrieta (12-15) had little trouble against Twentynine Palms in a 8-1 wild-card victory Tuesday. The same, however, can’t be expected when the Warriors visit defending champion Maranatha (17-9) at Jackie Robinson Park. They’ll face the area’s most touted pitcher in Dylan Covey, whose fastball tops out at 96 miles per hour. David McAllister (.425), Mark Jebbia (.400) and Covey (.400) also can be dangerous offensively.