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FOSTER SNELL, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Top-seeded JSerra has three solid starting pitchers in Jack Owen, above, Quentin Longrie and Collin Quinn, giving the Lions a major advantage over its rivals in Division 1.

Fryer: Predictions for the baseball playoffs

STAFF COLUMNIST

Last year, I correctly predicted the champion in only one of the seven CIF-Southern Section baseball playoff divisions.

I learned how DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard feel when they are shooting freethrows.

They get hacked; I’m a hack. They keep missing free throws; I keep misfiring on playoff predictions.

Like Jordan and Howard, I won’t quit trying …

DIVISION 1

Top 4 seeds: 1. JSerra; 2. Huntington Beach; 3. Agoura; 4. Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks

O.C. angle: No team in Orange County baseball, and perhaps no team in the Southern Section, has JSerra’s pitching depth. Most teams worry about their No. 2 starting pitcher. JSerra has three No. 1s, really, in Quentin Longrie, Jack Owen and Collin Quinn. JSerra has talent elsewhere, too. Huntington Beach is the second-most talented team in county baseball, with a half-dozen college signees, including outstanding center fielder Daniel Amaral who signed with UCLA. Aliso Niguel is tough to beat when Kyle Molnar is on the mound. Capistrano Valley has a 13-16-1 record, but is hot right now, having beaten Aliso twice last week to win the title of the deep South Coast League. Cypress’ Dominic Fletcher is one of the top all-around players in Southern California.

Final four: JSerra, Cypress, Dana Hills, Huntington Beach

Champion: JSerra

DIVISION 2

Top 4 seeds: 1. San Clemente; 2. Foothill; 3. Glendora; 4. South Hills of Covina.

O.C. angle: San Clemente’s success so far, including winning the championship of a very good league, the Sea View League, is remarkable considering they played without top prospect pitcher Kolby Allard, who has been out since mid-March because of a back injury. Foothill reached the Division 1 championship game last year and might be better this year. Mission Viejo has that required ace pitcher, USC-committed Patrick Sandoval. Trabuco Hills finished third in the Sea View but is good enough to win the championship of several other county leagues.

Final four: San Clemente, Chino Hills, Mission Viejo, Foothill

Champion: Foothill

DIVISION 3

Top 4 seeds: 1. San Dimas; 2. Palm Desert; 3. Paloma Valley of Menifee; 4. Temescal Canyon of Lake Elsinore.

O.C. angle: Beckman, with Adam Lamar leading the pitching staff and Tyler Geurts one of the team’s better hitters, is the best county team in this division. Corona del Mar has a standout pitcher, too, Evan Larsen. And so does Ocean View, with Braydon Salzman. Will one of those teams, and pitchers, be the one that gives state and national No. 1 San Dimas its first loss?

Final four: San Dimas, Beckman, Bishop Amat of La Puente, Palm Desert

Champion: Palm Desert

DIVISION 4

Top 4 seeds: 1. California of Whittier; 2. South Torrance; 3. Don Lugo of Chino; 4. Serrano of Phelan.

O.C. angle: Laguna Beach went 14-0 in the Orange Coast League to push its county-record league winning streak to 48 games, doing much of it without standout junior catcher Will McInerny who is recovering from a broken pinkie on his right hand. Sonora won the championship of a good league, the Freeway League. Troy won two of three against Sonora and finished second in the Freeway League, but the Warriors have to play a league champion, Montebello, in the first round.

Final four: California, Sonora, Don Lugo, Laguna Beach.

Champion: California

DIVISION 5

Top 4 seeds: 1. Village Christian of Sun Valley; 2. Monrovia; 3. Santa Ynez; 4. Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth.

O.C. angle: Capistrano Valley Christian won the Division 6 championship last year. The Eagles have several top players back from that team. Saddleback Valley Christian, which finished second to CVC in the San Joaquin League, and Whittier Christian, which played a wild-card game Tuesday, are the only other county teams in this division. SVC swept Sage Hill in a doubleheader in March.

Final four: Village Christian, Woodcrest Christian, Santa Ynez, Capistrano Valley Christian

Champion: Capistrano Valley Christian

DIVISION 6

Top 4 seeds: 1. Sage Hill; 2. Crean Lutheran; 3. Desert Christian of Lancaster; 4. Pasadena Poly

O.C. angle: The level of baseball in Division 6 annually is higher than one might expect. Sage Hill went undefeated in the Academy League, always a terrific small-schools league in a variety of sports. Crean finished second in the Academy League, St. Margaret’s third and Oxford Academy fourth. Crean has nonleague wins over larger schools like playoff teams Northwood and Calvary Chapel. Oxford is best-known for its academic excellence, but that school also has fielded good baseball teams for several years. We could be looking at an All-Academy League game in the Division 6 final at UC Riverside on June 6.

Final four: Sage Hill, Pasadena Poly, Desert Christian of Lancaster, Crean Lutheran.

Champion: Sage Hill

DIVISION 7

Top 4 seeds: 1. Excelsior Charter of Victorville; 2. Santa Clarita Christian; 3. Rolling Hills Prep of San Pedro; 4. Amino Leadership of Inglewood

O.C. angle: St. Michael’s Prep is the only county team in this division. The Archangels finished second, to Catalina Island-dwelling Avalon, in the Express League. They have an ace pitcher, Michael Gates, who can be a difference-maker when he is on his game.

Final four: Excelsior Charter, Avalon, Rolling Hills Prep, Santa Clarita Christian.

Champion: Excelsior Charter

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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