By Paul Muyskens
Contributing: Mark Tennis
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In its second year of existence, the National High School Invitational held in Cary, North Carolina, featured 16 of the top teams in the nation and for the second year in a row the championship game was an all-California matchup as it featured Mater Dei of Santa Ana facing Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood.
And just like last year, it was the Monarchs who once again came out victorious to cement their spot at the top of the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings. With both teams having limited pitching options, playing their fourth game in four days, it was senior left-hander Jacob Erickson who came up huge in the championship game for Mater Dei as he pitched a complete game shutout and struck out eight in the 4-0 win.
(After games of Saturday, March 30 with Monday games indicated; previous ranking in parentheses)
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 10-1
Before facing Harvard-Westlake in the final, the Monarchs topped three out-of-state powerhouse teams at the NHSI, including Lexington (S.C.) and The Woodlands (Texas). Coach Burt Call’s club will now look to avoid a repeat of last season that saw them lose in its next game after returning home from North Carolina. Mater Dei plays next in the SoCal bracket of the Boras Classic on Tuesday against Hart of Newhall.
2. (5) St. Francis (Mountain View) 14-1
While many other top teams suffered defeats last week, the Lancers bounced back from their 10-9 loss against No. 6 Serra of San Mateo with wins over Tracy and St. Mary’s of Stockton to move back up into the No. 2 spot with just the one good loss on their resume to go along with a handful of nice wins. Kort Peterson, Mark Cardinalli and Tyler Deason each drove in two runs during their 8-2 road win over the Rams to end the week. This week, St. Francis faces Dublin and plays in the St. Francis Elite 8 spring tournament.
3. (9) Canyon (Anaheim) 10-1
Like No. 2 St. Francis, the Comanches also bounced back from their first loss of the season with three wins, one over El Modena of Orange and two over Brea Olinda of Brea, to help them earn a big jump into the No. 3 spot this week. Their big win so far this season was at the Loara Tournament where they handed No. 4 Fountain Valley its only loss of the season. Starting play on Tuesday at the Boras Classic, Canyon will take on Lakewood. By the end of the week, Canyon could be playing No. 1 Mater Dei.
4. (6) Fountain Valley 14-1
It was a busy week for the Barons as they picked up four wins, including one over a Campolindo of Moraga team that has wins over state-ranked Elk Grove and Serra of San Mateo. That win helped move them up two spots, but they had to get passed by Canyon due to a head-to-head loss. The team already has played this week with a 28-3 victory over Woods Cross of Utah on Monday morning in the Anaheim Lions tourney.
5. (10) Harvard Westlake (North Hollywood) 12-3
Jack Flaherty, Hans Hansen and Conor Cuse all pitched complete game shutouts to help the Wolverines reach the championship game of the NHSI in North Carolina before having to use five pitchers during a 4-0 loss in the finals against Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Despite the loss, the Wolverines are awarded with a nice bump in the rankings after those impressive wins. One was against a Venice of Florida squad that had only lost once this season. They could have their chance to face the Monarchs once again this season come playoff time and without playing four games in four days they will be better set with pitching matchups in the battle for a section championship.
6. (8) Serra (San Mateo) 13-2
Coach Craig Gianinno’s Padres didn’t have a letdown last week after handing No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View its first loss of the season as they picked up three wins to earn a three spot jump in the rankings. Playing a tough schedule so far this season, Serra has rung up wins against several teams that have been state top 20 ranked including De La Salle of Concord, St. Mary’s of Stockton and Valley Christian of San Jose, which the team plays again in the tough West Catholic Athletic League.
7. (4) Buchanan (Clovis) 16-1-1
Entering the Boras Classic as one of the favorites to capture the Northern California championship, the Bears suffered a surprising first loss of the season by a 3-0 final against Rio Americano of Sacramento. Although they bounced back to win their next three games, they fall three spots in this week’s pecking order. The Bears still hold a victory over No. 20 Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove, which went on to win the Northern California part of the Boras Classic.
8. (12) Granada (Livermore) 10-0
Led by the pitching of senior Jacob Payne, who is 5-0 with a 0.23 ERA, the Matadors move into the top 10 as they remained undefeated with wins over Foothill of Pleasanton and Albany. Remaining undefeated will get a bit tougher once East Bay Athletic League play gets underway as they have to face teams like Livermore, Amador Valley and De La Salle of Concord, which is why we can allow them to be this high in the rankings despite a lack of marquee wins on the year.
9. (2) Granite Hills (El Cajon) 11-3
Winners of eight straight games, the Eagles had soared to as high as No. 2 in the state rankings last week but all that came to an end as they went 3-2 at the Mike Morrow Lions Tournament which included a win over previous No. 20 Chaminade of West Hills. Their lone loss to a California team at the tournament was 15-3 to Vista. Granite Hills played Monday afternoon at the Grossmont Tournament against Valhalla of El Cajon.
10. (3) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 8-4
Staying one spot behind the Eagles but dropping four spots as well this week are the Dons, who went 1-3 at the National High School Invitational in North Carolina. Facing four teams from other states, the Dons did defeat Grayson of Georgia before three losses in a row to end the tournament. Their lone loss this season to a California team was against Granite Hills.
11. (7) Elk Grove 8-2
Reaching the finals of the Northern California portion of the Boras Classic, the Thundering Herd suffered their second loss of the season, falling 11-1 against nearby Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove. Despite the loss and needing to drop them a few spots in the overall state rankings, they remain as our top-ranked team from the Sac-Joaquin Section after early season road wins over No. 13 Valley Christian of San Jose and St. Mary’s of Stockton.
12. (17) Clovis 16-3
The Cougars followed up their big road win over Central of Fresno that helped them break into the top 20 last week with four wins and a championship at the Fresno Easter Classic. In a pitching matchup that had fans excited to see, it was USC commit Jake Gatewood who out battled Kerman’s Carlos Salazar for a 1-0 win in the finals as Gatewood struck out eight and pitched a no-hitter while also doubling and scoring as the game’s lone run. Clovis will next go on the road to face No. 7 Buchanan on Wednesday in a Tri-Rivers Athletic Conference showdown.
13. (18) Valley Christian (San Jose) 10-4
The big win of the week for the Warriors was when they beat St. Mary’s of Stockton 2-1 behind the lockdown pitching of junior Theron Kay. Valley Christian played on Monday against Santa Cruz in its own Crown Classic.
14. (19) Nogales (La Puente) 12-0
Nogales won its game last week 9-1 over Jordan of Long Beach. This week, in a Monday game, the Nobles have lost their first game of the season to Segerstrom of Santa Ana. That loss will be reflected in next week’s rankings.
15. (NR) San Dieguito (Encinitas) 13-1
The Mustangs won the Premier Division at the Mike Morrow Lions tourney with a 2-1 victory in the final over Valhalla of El Cajon. Left-handed pitcher Dominic Anguiano went for a complete game and won a game earlier in the tourney. The team won four games in five days, which is always hard to do in high school given the pitching limitations.
16. (NR) Cypress 9-3
Breaking back into the state top 20 prior to their appearance at this week’s Hard 9 National Classic, the Centurions swept a pair against Kennedy of La Palma. In a 2-1 win to complete the week, Kevin Lillicrop dusted the Irish on a three-hitter.
17. (NR) Clovis North (Clovis) 15-3
Cody Cummings raked a pair of hits, including a double and scored twice as the Broncos beat Sanger 3-0 to cap a four-win week. Clovis North coach Chris Patrick thus joins his father’s team from Clovis in this week’s top 20. Matt Walker also shined against Sanger in picking up the pitching win.
18. (NR) Vista 9-4
The Panthers, last year’s No. 1 team in the state, continued to surge after their 1-3 start. They won the Classic Division of last week’s Mike Morrow Lions tourney with a 4-3 triumph over San Diego Madison. Senior Marshall Veyveris recorded the pitching win with a complete game six-hitter that included no walks. Veyveris got the nod after one of the team’s aces, Billy Roth, shut down Rancho Bernardo of San Diego 6-1 on a three-hitter in the semifinals.
19. (NR) El Toro (Lake Forest) 8-4
Ryan Kayoda was dominant on the mound with a four-hitter as the Chargers beat Tesoro of Rancho Santa Margarita 1-0 and have been pushed back up into the top 20. The team has a non-league game this week against Chaminade of West Hills.
20. (NR) Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 9-3
In preparation for next weekend’s title game of the Boras Classic in Stockton (which could bring No. 1 Mater Dei to town), the Eagles have been lifted into this week’s top 20. They won the NorCal bracket of that event (the SoCal bracket is this week) with an 11-1 win over Elk Grove. Pleasant Grove broke open a 3-1 game with eight runs in the top of the seventh inning. Josh Adams went six innings on the hill and gave up just one run against Elk Grove’s powerful lineup.
Teams That Dropped Out:
Previous No. 11 De La Salle (Concord); No. 13 St. Augustine (San Diego); No. 14 Agoura (Agoura Hills); No. 15 Bonita (La Verne); No. 16 Rancho Bernardo (San Diego); No. 20 Chaminade (West Hills).
Teams On The Bubble:
Agoura (Agoura Hills) 10-4, Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 7-2, Bellarmine (San Jose) 10-3, Benicia 15-2, Campolindo (Moraga) 4-5, Canyon (Canyon Country) 10-3, Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo) 10-3, Casa Grande (Petaluma) 11-1, Chaminade (West Hills) 9-4, De La Salle (Concord) 4-3, Frontier (Bakersfield) 13-3-1, Grossmont (La Mesa) 9-3, La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 8-2, Lincoln (Stockton) 9-1-1, Lutheran (Orange) 8-4, Madera 12-3, Northview (Covina) 10-2, Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 9-3, Redlands East Valley (Redlands) 12-2-1, South (Torrance) 9-3, St. Augustine (San Diego) 11-2, St. Mary’s (Stockton) 3-9, Turlock 12-1.
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