By Stephen Ramirez
The baseball programs of El Rancho and Montebello high schools are no stranger to each other, which makes their meeting in Friday’s CIF Southern Section Division quarterfinal even more interesting.The two former rivals of the old Whitmont League meet for a spot in the semifinals at 3:15 p.m. at Montebello High.“It’s a great for the area,” El Rancho coach Frank Llanes said. “Montebello and us go back … way back to the Whitmont League, back to the 50s and 60s. It’s great to play a quarterfinal game against them, because its so big for this area.”
It should be a battle.
El Rancho (17-14) finished third in the Del Rio League, but has been hot of late, winning four consecutive games, including upsetting No. 3 seed West Torrance (4-1) in the first round and beating Apple Valley (6-4) in the second round.
The Dons are led by senior Jose Guerrero, who is hitting .367 and 14 RBIs, and Bobby Banuelos, who is hitting .307 with 12 RBIs.
Montebello (20-11), which won the Almont League for the second consecutive season, counters with sophomore Jose Macias, who is hitting .562 with 21 RBIs, and Edgar Velazquez, who is hitting .370 with 15 RBIs.
The Oilers advanced with wins over Santa Ana Calvary Chapel (10-1) and Century (8-1).
Here’s a brief look at the rest of the area quarterfinals. All games begin at 3:15 p.m.:
La Mirada at Redlands East Valley >> The Matadores (23-7) are seeking their second trip to the semifinals during the past three seasons.
La Mirada has won 13 of its last 14, including a 7-1 win at Rancho Cucamonga in Tuesday’s second round.
The Matadores will give Jakob Gonzalez the ball today. The senior is 7-1 and threw five shut-out innings in a 1-0 win over Ayala in the first round. La Mirada also looks to junior shortstop Kevin Kendall, who is hitting .452 with 29 RBIs, and Daniel Jung, who is hitting .366 with 27 RBIs.
Redlands East Valley (21-7) advanced with a 1-0 victory over No. 2 seed Gahr in the second round.
Laguna Beach vs. Cal >> The Condors (20-9) are seeking their third consecutive trip to the semifinals.
Cal has won nine of its last 10 and has done it with pitching, yielding a run or less in five out its past six games, including a 4-1 win over Fullerton in the second round.
Senior Jakob Johnston, who is 7-1 with a 1.50 ERA, is expected to get the call today. The Condors also look to senior catcher Eric Sotelo, who is hitting .267 with 13 RBIs, and senior Jake Carmichael, who is hitting .365 and scored 16 runs.
Laguna Beach (17-12) advanced with a 4-0 win over Patriot in the second round.
Kaiser at Santa Fe >> The Chiefs (18-13) are looking to continue their best season in more than 20 years. But it will be a top challenge to oust the No. 2 seed Cats (25-3).
Santa Fe, which shared the Del Rio League title with Cal for its first title in 22 years, looks to senior Robert Lucia, who is 8-2 with a 1.11 ERA. He threw a no-hitter in a 5-0 win over Grace Brethren in the first round. The Chiefs, who beat Rialto (3-0) in the second round, also look to Zach Penticoff, who is hitting .353 with 17 RBIs, and Luis Aguilar, who is hitting .361 with 14 RBIs.
Kaiser advanced with a 13-1 win over Ramona in the second round.
Cantwell-Sacred Heart of Mary at Paraclete >> The Cardinals (26-4) have a tall order in the No. 2 Spirits (22-4), who advanced with wins over Rubidoux (13-0) and Lompoc Cabrillo (3-0).
CSHM, which has playoff wins over Ontario Christian (4-1) and Garey (6-0), are led by Jared Thomas, who is hitting .434 with 24 RBIs, and Andrew Quillen, who is hitting .370 with 20 RBIs.