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By Paul Muyskens
Contributing: Mark Tennis
One week after making his first start of the season, which was a complete-game shutout in the championship game of the National High School Invitational, Jacob Erickson once again was handed the ball in a big game for Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
Once again, Erickson came through. He pitched another shutout and had 11 strikeouts as the Monarchs defeated Oaks Christian of Westlake Village 6-0 in the Southern California bracket finals of the Boras Classic.
Josh Stephen put the final touches on a five-run first inning with a bases clearing double that scored three runs. Ryan McMahon was named as the MVP of the bracket for his outstanding week of play. The Monarchs will now play Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove at the University of Pacific in Stockton on Saturday for the overall tournament championship in a game that Cal-Hi Sports will be attending.
Here are this week’s rankings (after games of Monday, April 8; previous ranking in parentheses; Tuesday games of this week not included):
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 14-1
Winners of 14 straight since opening the season with a loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton, the Monarchs will head to Stockton and are favored to return with another tournament championship as they will face unranked Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove in the Boras Classic finals. Before defeating Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood in the SoCal finals, Mater Dei defeated a Lakewood team that has knocked off state No. 6 Canyon of Anaheim in the opening round. Making the Monarchs tough to beat even when playing four games in four days is their pitching depth as Jacob Erickson, who is listed as their No. 4 starting pitcher, has been outstanding when handed the ball and would likely be the top guy in the pitching rotations of many other top teams.
2. (2) St. Francis (Mountain View) 17-1
If you are a fan of pitching and defense, then the Lancers’ game against Amador Valley of Pleasanton was one to be at as they captured their own Elite 8 tournament championship with a 1-0 victory over the Dons. Michael Strem pitched the complete-game and struck out a career-high 10 batters. The game ended in dramatic fashion as UCLA-bound center fielder Kort Peterson threw out a runner trying to score from second for the game’s final out. It’s a shame the NorCal portion of the Boras Classic didn’t include the Lancers or any other top teams from the West Catholic Athletic League as then you could make more of an argument for it being for a “mythical” state championship and a possible No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup could have happened this week.
3. (4) Fountain Valley 16-1
Despite suffering their lone loss of the season against Canyon of Anaheim, the Barons can now move ahead of the Comanches, who suffered their second loss of the season and needed to drop a few spots this week. The Barons did have to come from behind in their final game of the week as they trailed Capistrano Valley of Mission Viejo 4-0 after four innings before scoring three runs in the fifth inning and nine runs in the sixth inning to pick up the 12-5 triumph.
4. (5) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 13-3
Bouncing back from their loss to Mater Dei in the championship game of the NHSI, the Wolverines defeated Simi Valley 3-1 in their lone game last week and will stay right behind Fountain Valley and follow them up a spot in this week’s rankings. Harvard-Westlake still has a good chance to end the season as the No. 1 team in the state if it keeps winning since it could face No. 1 Mater Dei again in the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs. Up first, though, is the Mission League where the Wolverines have already lost twice this season.
5. (8) Granada (Livermore) 12-0
Jacob Payne continues to be hard to hit and the Matadors remain the only undefated team left in our rankings after a pair of wins last week to earn a spot in the top five this week. Payne struck out eight and tossed four innings of no-hit baseball before turning it over to the bullpen as Granada captured the Alhambra Easter Tournament with a 11-1 win over the hosts from Martinez. East Bay Athletic League play gets underway this week and they will be tested right away as they go on the road to take on No. 19 Amador Valley of Pleasanton. Their schedule so far is still questionable compared to other top teams in the state, but it won’t be once all of the EBAL games have been played. That’s one of the best leagues in Northern California.
6. (3) Canyon (Anaheim) 13-2
Despite a win over No. 3 Fountain Valley earlier this season, the Comanches fall behind the Barons in the Southern Section pecking order and fall a few spots as they suffered a second loss at the Boras Classic with a first-round loss to Lakewood. Keeping them in the mix to get right back into the top five, they bounced back from that loss and defeated a Loyola of Los Angeles squad that split a pair of games against No. 4 Harvard-Westlake earlier this season. That first-round loss prevented Canyon from having a chance to face No. 1 Mater Dei and play their way into the top spot in the state.
7. (7) Buchanan (Clovis) 16-2-1
In the CIF Central Section, the top few teams have taken turns beating each other in recent weeks with the Bears not always escaping with the win. Last week, coach Tom Donald’s club defeated No. 16 Clovis before losing to No. 18 Clovis North. Buchanan stays No. 1 in the section for still having just two losses, for having a win over Boras Classic finalist Pleasant Grove and for having a win over Central of Fresno, which just defeated Clovis North last week.
8. (11) Elk Grove 10-2
If not for a loss to Pleasant Grove of Elk Grove in the NorCal finals of the Boras Classic, the Thundering Herd might be in the top five but they do move back into the top 10 after defeating Monterey Trail of Elk Grove and Grant of Sacramento by double digits last week. Helping them move up into the top 10 is their win over new No. 11 Valley Christian of San Jose earlier this season.
9. (6) Serra (San Mateo) 13-3
For just the third time this season, the Padres suffered being on the wrong end of the final score but it was a bit of a surprise as they lost to College Park of Pleasant Hill 5-2 in their lone game last week. The loss prevented the Padres from moving into the top five but they remain in the top 10 thanks to wins already this season over No. 11 Valley Christian of San Jose and No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View.
10. (10) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 12-4
Returning from North Carolina and the NHSI where they went just 1-3, the Dons got back to their winning ways with three wins last week and one already this week on Monday over Mira Mesa of San Diego. Their lone loss this season to a team from California was to Granite Hills of El Cajon, but they have done enough to pass the Eagles for the top spot in San Diego after the Eagles lost their fourth game of the season last week.
11. (13) Valley Christian (San Jose) 13-4
Pitching and defense has been key for the Warriors lately as they picked up three wins last week and captured their Crown Classic tournament championship despite not scoring more than four runs in a game. Junior Ben Hughes was one walk away from perfection in a 3-0 win over Washington of Fremont as he struck out four and didn’t allow a hit. Returning back to WCAL play, Valley Christian faces No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View for the first time this week.
12. (NR) Lutheran (Orange) 12-4
Winning a big tournament is a good way to make a big jump into the rankings and that’s what the Lancers did as they won the Hard 9 National Classic with a 4-2 win over No. 15 Cypress in the finals. Garrett King and Matt Hammonds each pitched shutouts earlier in the tournament as the Lancers’ pitching staff at one point didn’t allow a run for 22 straight innings. Long Beach State-bound Jason Martin was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. Three of Orange Lutheran’s four losses this season have come by one run while the other came against No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
13. (15) San Dieguito (Encinitas) 15-1
It was two more wins last week for the Mustangs and two spots up in the rankings. They also are now No. 2 in the San Diego Section behind just Cathedral Catholic by the San Diego Union-Tribune and in front of bigger schools like Granite Hills, Rancho Bernardo and Vista. Playing in the Avocado East League, the Mustangs can’t afford to slip up as their remaining regular season schedule doesn’t include a team that has won 10 games this season.
14. (NR) Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 12-3-1
Playing in the Boras Classic, the Lions weren’t able to capture the championship but their performance in getting to the finals, where they lost 6-0 to No. 1 Mater Dei, is enough to get them in these rankings this week. In the second round, Oaks Christian defeated previous No. 19 El Toro and then their winning streak moved to 10 games with a 5-2 win over JSerra Catholic of San Juan Capistrano in the semifinals. One of their other two losses this season was against No. 4 Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood.
15. (16) Cypress 12-4
Despite losing a game last week, the Centurions move up a spot as they reached the Hard 9 National Classic finals before losing to new No. 12 Orange Lutheran by a 4-2 score. On the season, they also have two wins over El Toro and they lost by just one run early in the season to No. 3 Fountain Valley.
16. (12) Clovis 16-4
Going on the road to face No. 7 Buchanan of Clovis, the Cougars’ seven-game winning streak came to an end but they kept it close as they lost just 1-0 before bouncing back and ending the week with a 6-5 win over Clovis West of Fresno. Despite the loss, Clovis remains in the top 20 and has several chances to earn its way up with more games against Buchanan in three weeks.
17. (9) Granite Hills (El Cajon) 12-4
We wrote last week that the Eagles’ loss to Valhalla of El Cajon would get reflected in this week’s rankings and here it is, an eight-spot drop. They still have a win over No. 10 Cathedral Catholic and we decided not to drop them as far as the San Diego Union-Tribune did in its rankings this week.
18. (17) Clovis North (Fresno) 16-4
Seeing their five-game winning streak come to an end against Central of Fresno, the Broncos were on the verge of being bucked out of the top 20 before picking up a big win over No. 7 Buchanan of Clovis to keep them from falling out. Jack Labosky pitched the six-hitter in the battle of the No. 1 and No. 3 teams in the Central Section.
19. (NR) Amador Valley (Pleasanton) 9-3
It has been an impressive last two weeks for the Dons as they followed up wins over Livermore and De La Salle of Concord with a run to the championship game of the Elite 8 Tournament in Mountain View. Coach Lou Cesario’s boys then lost by just 1-0 in the final to No. 2 St. Francis. Amador Valley has a chance to climb even higher if they can open this week with a win on Wednesday against unbeaten, No. 5-ranked Granada of Livermore.
20. (NR) Turlock 15-1
Defeating Johansen of Modesto 7-2, the Bulldogs captured the Dick Windemuth Easter Classic championship and extended their winning streak to 15 games. Adam Groesbeck led the offense with two doubles and four runs batted in. Turlock’s lone loss came in its first game 1-0 at Lincoln of Stockton, which is another top CIF Sac-Joaquin Section team that has just one loss and two ties since that day.
Teams That Dropped
Previous No. 14 Nogales (La Puente); No. 18 Vista; No. 19 El Toro (Lake Forest); No. 20 Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove).
Teams On The Bubble:
Agoura (Agoura Hills) 13-5, Alemany (Mission Hills) 13-3, Bellarmine (San Jose) 13-4, Benicia 16-2, Bonita (La Verne) 14-2-1, Campolindo (Moraga) 6-6-1, Canyon (Canyon Country) 12-5, Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo) 15-6, Casa Grande (Petaluma) 13-1, Chaminade (West Hills) 10-7, De La Salle (Concord) 7-4, Diamond Bar 13-2, El Toro (Lake Forest) 11-5, Frontier (Bakersfield) 14-4-1, Grossmont (La Mesa) 11-4, La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 10-4, Lincoln (Stockton) 11-1-2, Madera 13-4, Moorpark 15-4, Nogales 14-1, Norco 13-2, Northview (Covina) 13-3, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove) 9-4, Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 12-3, Redlands 11-3, Redlands East Valley (Redlands) 13-3-1, San Clemente 15-3, South (Torrance) 10-4, St. Augustine (San Diego) 12-3, St. Mary’s (Stockton) 5-10 , Valhalla (El Cajon) 10-6, Vista 11-5.
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