The play-in games have been completed, now the CIF-Southern Section baseball playoffs, sans Bishop Amat’s 12-3 victory over Garden Grove Santiago on Wednesday, kick into high gear, with first round games slated for today and Friday. I thought what a good time to look at the divisions involving local teams, where the area’s best hopes for championship glory rest with Division 3 defending champion Bonita. Here goes.
Seeds: 1. Redlands East Valley (22-4-1), 2. Temecula Valley (19-5), 3. Los Osos (20-2), 4. Cypress (21-8).
Locals: South Hills (21-6), Damien (17-10).
Darkhorse: La Mirada (19-10-1)
Projected champion: Los Osos
Thoughts: Locally, South Hills had another solid season, but the odds are stacked against the Huskies, who host Rio Miesa (11-13) today. South Hills should advance to second round, but will have to run the gauntlet, with likely facing San Clemente (22-8), which was the division’s top team for much of the season, in the round of 16 and No. 1 Redlands East Valley in the quarters. La Mirada features one of the better pitching staffs in the division and could pull off some surprises. Los Osos has had just a few slip ups, but has been lights out lately, so I go with “The Bears” Grizzlies.
Seeds: 1. Bonita (26-3-1), 2. Serra (24-5), 3. Gahr (20-5), 4. Palm Desert (16-7)
Locals: Bontia, Los Altos (16-9), Bishop Amat (17-11), Diamond Bar (19-6), West Covina (16-12-1)
Darkhorse: Bishop Amat
Projected champion: Bonita
Thoughts: Bonita, after going 61 years between CIF-SS titles, looks ready to go back-to-back. The Bearcats don’t have the offensive prowess they enjoyed last season, but very few can match their pitching. The exception to the rule might be Serra, which should also advance to the final, setting up an epic battle for title glory. Cathedral and starter Bryan Duenes might be the Bearcats toughest opponent prior to the final when they square off today. Go with the Bearcats in that one and for the division crown. Bishop Amat is a team to lookout for. The Lancers, after a slow start, have won 12 of 15, with the losses coming to Serra and Cathedral.
Seeds: 1. Oaks Christian (24-3-1), 2. Kaiser (23-3), 3. Laguna Beach (24-2), 4. San Dimas (22-6)
Locals: San Dimas, Northview (21-8), Baldwin Park (20-5), Nogales (22-6)
Projected champion: Oaks Christian
Thoughts: Oaks Christian has never won a CIF-SS baseball title, but this year might be the exception. The Lions finished the regular season with 12 consecutive wins and feature arguably the top staff in the divisions, with their top two starters (Phil Bickford and Spencer Vogelbach) boasting ERAs under 2.00. Two of Oaks Christian’s three losses were to Division No. 1 seed Mater Dei and No. 3 Harvard-Westlake. There doesn’t appear to be a team in the division that can matchup, so I’ll go with chalk and pick the Lions. Northview, with victories over South Hills and close losses to Bonita and San Dimas, has shown it can matchup with most teams on a given day. The question is can the Vikings put a couple of those performances together. I can see Northview advancing to the quarters, where their season likely ends with a loss to Oaks Christian. Also be wary of San Dimas, which after struggling in the Arcadia Tournament, has found its way late and I wouldn’t be surprised of a 2009 repeat.
Seeds: 1. Paraclete (21-3), 2. Oaks Hills (21-7), 3. Ontario Christian (21-5), 4. Citrus Valley (19-5)
Locals: La Puente (13-10), El Monte (12-11), Duarte (13-12), Arroyo (13-8), Sierra Vista (17-5), Mountain View (10-14).
Darkhorse: Ontario Christian (21-5)
Thoughts: This division features the most area teams. But the added odds likely won’t keep Paraclete from making a title run. The Spirits are the team to pick after closing the regular season with 16 wins over their final 17 games. Sierra Vista, La Puente and Arroyo all should win first-round games, but all that gives La Puente and Sierra Vista, who shared the Montview League title, is encounters against the top two seeds. Arroyo has a tough matchup against Brentwood, and likely Ontario Christian in the second round.