Above: Arcadia’s KJ Edson has had the kind of season that makes him a Star-News Player of the Year candidate.
Anyone looking to experience a playoff-like atmosphere need look no further.
The site is Arcadia High at 7 tonight, when the Apaches will host Crescenta Valley. On the line will be Arcadia’s chance to clinch the Pacific League baseball title outright.
The formula is simple: win, and the Apaches (22-3, 13-0) sit alone in the standings for a third consecutive title. Lose, and they share the crown with rival Crescenta Valley (23-3, 13-1). The visiting Falcons got the best of Arcadia in the first meeting in April, 4-2.
Also at stake is prime position for playoff seedings. Arcadia currently is No. 4 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 coaches poll, while Crescenta Valley is No. 5. The final position could be the difference between playing a wild- card game Tuesday or going straight to a first-round appearance. As if that isn’t enough, Arcadia is putting its 29-game league winning streak on the line.
There won’t be any surprises tonight on the mound. Arcadia will send out ace KJ Edson, who’s 9-1 with a 0.62 ERA and 61 strikeouts, and pitched a complete game against the Falcons in the first meeting.
Expect to see Elliott Surrey take the mound for the Falcons. The Apaches had him on the ropes in the first meeting, but Surrey’s proven that he has the arsenal to be an ace. He has a no-hitter under his belt this season, and has a wicked fastball that’s stymied many.
The delivery is the only difference between Edson and Surrey.
“They both pound the strike zone,” Arcadia coach Nick Lemas said. “They work to get ahead of hitters, they trust their stuff.
“Both have effective fastballs. KJ throws from submarine and Surrey is over the top, but both are pitchers. They’re not throwers. They have a plan and know how to throw to a hitter.”
Surrey is unbeaten so far this season. Edson’s lone loss came to Northview early in the season.
“Every pitcher gets into a jam,” Lemas said, “but the good ones are able to get out of it.”
That the final game of the season carries so much weight creates an exciting atmosphere, but if he had his druthers, Lemas would’ve had it all locked up by now.
“I love the competition, don’t get me wrong,” he said, “but I’d love to have had it wrapped up.
“But it’s good for us to play a final game that has a lot of meaning. There’s more hype to this game because it’s CV-Arcadia, our records and how we’re both doing.”
On the flip side, it gives the perception that the Pacific League is a strong league, and that could benefit both teams when coaches make the playoff pairings.
“Especially in Division 2 there’s a lot of wild-card games,” Lemas said.
“We’re both ranked in the top five of CIF, and hopefully whoever loses this game still is able to get into the first round without playing a wild-card game. You never know. We’ll just have to earn the game.”
Parisi weighs in
Expect Pasadena coach Mike Parisi to be in attendance tonight at Arcadia. He loves baseball and knows top- caliber teams when he sees them. In this case, he’s played against them, too.
Asked to pick the best pitcher between Edson and Surrey, Parisi didn’t hesitate.
“Edson definitely has the advantage because he’s had the biggest starts and he’s had two big years,” Parisi said.
“Surrey’s had other quality pitchers on his staff. Edson’s lived up to the hype.”
Below: Crescenta Valley’s Elliott Surrey, sporting the Greg Maddux look.