Fryer: Mission Viejo eager to resume league play


The other nine teams in the Coast View Conference know what Mission Viejo is dealing with. So do the eight teams in the Century Conference.

“We’re 16-7,” Mission Viejo coach Chris Ashbach said. “But we’ve played only four league games.”

That’s life in these conferences, no matter the sport. The ratio of nonleague games to league games is high.

The Coast View Conference is a grouping of 10 south-county schools. The schools’ teams are divided into two five-team leagues, the Sea View and South Coast leagues. League membership varies from sport to sport. For baseball, the Sea View League teams are Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, San Juan Hills and Trabuco Hills; the South Coast teams are Aliso Niguel, Capistrano Valley, Dana Hills, El Toro and Tesoro.

With only four league opponents, the Coast View teams have more nonleague games than they did back when the Sea View and South Coast leagues were six-team leagues.

On Wednesday, Mission Viejo plays its first league game in 20 days when the Diablos play host to San Juan Hills. Keeping kids enthused during such long periods between truly meaningful games is a challenge.

“Kids can get disinterested,” said Ashbach, who has 295 wins at Mission Viejo. “It’s extremely difficult.”

Still, Mission Viejo has been hot. The Diablos have won five in a row. They beat all of their Sea View opponents in the first round of league play to stand alone in first place with a 4-0 league record.

Ashbach has a bunch of what he calls “high school Johnnies” on the team.

“These are high school kids just having fun playing baseball,” he said.

The Diablos, No. 2 in the CIF-SS Division 1 poll behind league-rival San Clemente, have a wonderful pitcher, senior left-hander Patrick Sandoval. Sandoval, who signed with college baseball power Vanderbilt and has the MLB scouts monitoring him closely, is 5-2 with a 0.81 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 52 innings.

The Diablos also have pitching depth, with sophomore Tanner Bibee at 3-0 with a 0.79 ERA and senior Daniel Strickland at 3-1 with a 2.96 ERA.

Senior right-fielder Matt Ryhlick is batting .317 and leads the team in home runs (four) and RBI (17). Senior second baseman John Grebeck, the Diablos’ leadoff hitter, has a team-leading 16 runs.

Ashbach said it is a fun group to coach.

“They’re just playing baseball, not worrying about what college they’re going to be at,” Ashbach said. “It’s been wonderful.”

Around the horn in county baseball:

• Fountain Valley has won five in a row, with victories over Marina, Capistrano Valley and Beckman during the streak. The Barons had three one-run wins last week and scored the winning run in the seventh inning in two of those games. Sophomore third baseman Travis Burleson is batting .400.

• The top four teams in the CIF-SS Division 1 poll are county teams. JSerra is No. 1, Dana Hills is No. 2, Edison is No. 3 and Orange Lutheran is No. 4.

• Wednesday’s schedule is strong. It includes Huntington Beach at Los Alamitos and Fountain Valley at Edison in the Sunset League (Huntington Beach is 5-1 in league, Los Alamitos is 4-2 and Edison and Fountain Valley are tied for third at 4-3).

• Also Wednesday, Santa Margarita (2-1 in league) at Mater Dei (1-2) and JSerra (2-1) vs. Orange Lutheran (2-1) at Hart Park in the Trinity League; Dana Hills vs. San Clemente in a nonleague doubleheader at Saddleback College; Katella (5-2) vs. Anaheim (5-1) at Dee Fee Field in the Orange League; and in the South Coast League, El Toro (2-4) at Capistrano Valley (3-1) and Tesoro (2-4) at Aliso Niguel (4-2).

• Garden Grove, La Quinta and Santiago are tied for first place in the Garden Grove League at 5-2 each but none of them play each other this week.

• Villa Park has won six in a row including wins last week over El Dorado and Canyon.

• Pitchers in CIF baseball are limited to 30 outs worth of pitching a week. There are no plans to change that. The Texas high school association might change its rules that currently have no weekly limit but does have a limit of no more than 10 innings over multiple games played the same day.

• will have audio coverage of the Dana Hills-San Clemente doubleheader, Huntington Beach-Los Alamitos and JSerra-Orange Lutheran on Wednesday.

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