Fryer on baseball: O.C. teams grab top four seeds in Division 1
When the CIF-SS baseball playoff brackets were released Monday, there were four Orange County teams occupying the top four seeded positions in Division 1.
The chances of those four teams – Cypress, El Toro, Orange Lutheran and JSerra – all advancing to the semifinals is not good, historically.
In each of the past three years, only one of the top four-seeded teams in Division 1 advanced to the final four. Last year, only one of the top four Division 1 seeds advanced to the semifinals, which was eventual champion Huntington Beach.
In 2014, it was an all-O.C. final four with Foothill, JSerra, Santa Margarita and Trabuco Hills. Only JSerra was among the top four seeded teams in Division 1 going into the ’14 playoffs. In ’13, eventual champion Harvard-Westlake of Studio City was the only team among the top four seeds that advanced to the semis.
Around the horn in Orange County baseball:
• Teams qualified for the playoffs if they were among the top two finishers in four-team leagues or were the top three finishers in five-team leagues or were among the to three finishers in six-team leagues. A team that finished too low for guaranteed qualification can petition for at-large berth consideration if its overall record is .500 or better. Only one division, Division 6, did not have enough guaranteed qualifiers to fill the 32-team bracket and thus only Division 6 has an at-large team in it.
• The playoffs begin Tuesday with wild card-round games in Divisions 2, 4 and 6. Wild card-round games are Wednesday in Divisions 1, 3, 5 and 7. The first round in Divisions 2, 4 and 6 is Thursday, with first-round games Friday in Divisions 1, 3, 5 and 7.
• The second round for all divisions is May 24. The quarterfinals are May 27. The semifinals are May 31. (The Division 1 semifinals are played as a doubleheader at Blair Field in Long Beach.)
• Championship games are June 4. Division 5, 6 and 7 championship games are at UC Riverside. Division 1, 2, 3 and 4 finals are at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino.
• JSerra is seeded No. 1 in Division 1 for the third year in a row. Last year, JSerra reached the quarterfinals. The Lions advanced to the semifinals in 2014.
• Among the better teams that did not qualify for the playoffs: Capistrano Valley (which went 3-2 against playoff-bound teams over the past couple of weeks); Los Alamitos (swept Sunset League champion Marina last week); Newport Harbor (swept Edison in the final week of the regular season); San Clemente (was a county top 10 team during the season); Santa Margarita (maybe the best county team not in the playoffs); Servite (a fifth-place Trinity League team; could be good enough to win the league championship of several other leagues); and Tesoro (six wins over playoff-bound teams, but lost its final six games to get knocked out of playoff contention).
• In most leagues, league teams play other league teams three times, and that helps settle ties in the final standings. For example, in the Golden West League, Santa Ana and Segerstrom finished tied for third place with 6-7 league records. Because Segerstrom beat Santa Ana in two of their three league games, Segerstrom got the league’s third and final playoff berth in Division 3.
• Empire League teams play other league teams only twice. Kennedy and Tustin tied for second place in the Empire League with 7-3 league records. Kennedy and Tustin split their two league games so a coin flip won by Tustin made Tustin the league’s No. 2 representative and made Kennedy No. 3 for the Division 1 playoffs.
• That turned out to be an important coin flip. Kennedy was assigned a wild-card round game in which the Fighting Irish play at Riverside Poly on Wednesday, and the winner of that plays at second-seeded El Toro on Friday. Tustin was placed in the Division 1 first round in which the Tillers play at Esperanza.
• Sage Hill and Crean Lutheran finished 1-2 in the Academy League standings. They are 1-2 in the Division 6 seedings, too. Academy League champion Sage Hills is the division’s No. 1-seeded team with Crean seeded No. 2. In opposite halves of the bracket, they would not meet in the playoffs until the championship game at UC Riverside.
• Sage Hill’s 22-game winning streak is the longest of any county team in the baseball playoffs.
• Ocean View went 12-3 in the Golden West League to win the league championship. The Seahawks were 2-9 in nonleague games.
• Laguna Beach defeated Calvary Chapel twice in the final week of the regular season to capture the Orange Coast League championship. Breakers sophomore pitcher Blake Burzell got a save in one game and, although he did not get the decision, held Calvary Chapel scoreless over five innings in the other.
• Trabuco Hills sophomore second baseman Daniel Johnson had five hits and six RBI last week as the Mustangs took two from Tesoro. Defensively, Johnson was part of three double plays.
• Newport Harbor’s Cade Seabold batted .565 in Sunset League games and hit .507 for the season. He was 6 for 7 last week as the Sailors beat Edison twice.
• Huntington Beach’s Nick Pratto homered twice last week and reached base on eight of nine plate appearances as the Oilers beat Fountain Valley twice.
• Mater Dei pitcher Jonathan Schiffer pitched a shutout and had three RBI in the Monarchs’ three-game sweep of St. John Bosco, wins they needed to qualify for the playoffs. Josh Stephen drove in four runs during the series.
• Mission Viejo lost its first three Sea View League games. The Diablos won their next nine to finish with a 9-3 league record to take the league championship.
• San Juan Hills had lost six of seven Sea View Leagues going into the final week of the regular season. They needed to sweep league-rival San Clemente to get a playoff berth and did so with a pair of one-run wins, 2-1 and 5-4.
• Marina won six Sunset League games in a row to clinch the league championship. The Vikings were swept by Los Alamitos in the final week of the regular season.
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