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By Paul Muyskens
Contributing: Mark Tennis
Four new teams made their way into this week’s Cal-Hi Sports Top 20 baseball rankings with Carlsbad (up to No. 2 in the CIF San Diego Section) and Bellarmine of San Jose (fresh after big wins over Valley Christian of San Jose and Archbishop Mitty of San Jose) going in the highest at No. 14 and No. 15, respectively.
It’s still the most fun to see San Dieguito of Encinitas breaking in No. 20. The Mustangs’ are led by head coach Jack McDowell, a former Cy Young Award winner.
For us, though, when we think of McDowell, we think of the great team he pitched for in 1984 at Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks. The Knights were in line to be mythical national champion and were unbeaten entering the CIF Southern Section playoffs. After 27 straight wins to start the season, though, McDowell and his teammates were upset and didn’t get to raise any hardware after their last game. It was still a great team. If the Knights had been able to finish it off perfectly, they’d clearly be up there among the greatest teams – maybe even top five – in state history.
Here are this week’s rankings (after games of Saturday, April 27; previous ranking in parentheses; Monday games of this week not included):
1. (1) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 21-1
After a pair of one-run wins from the week before, the Monarchs didn’t have to sweat it out as much last week as they scored 11 runs in both games against St. John Bosco of Bellflower to extend their winning streak to 21 games. Aaron Cross moved to 8-0 on the season while Jeremy Martinez and Ryan McMahon each drove in three runs in the 11-3 win to end the week. With St. Francis of Mountain View keeping the pressure on the Monarchs for the top spot in the state, their undefeated record in the Trinity League will get a tough test this week as they play a pair of games against No. 18 Orange Lutheran.
2. (2) St. Francis (Mountain View) 24-1
Finally with a chance to avenge their lone loss on the season, the Lancers took it to Serra of San Mateo and picked up the 13-3 win as Michael Strem moved to 9-0 on the season. Earlier in the week, they defeated St. Ignatius of San Francisco and this week they will face No. 15 Bellarmine of San Jose and Valley Christian of San Jose. Along with Mater Dei, the Lancers have helped seperate the top two spots from the rest of the top 20 in the state. Either one could lose a game and still be in the top two next week. If Orange Lutheran were to get a win over Mater Dei this week, though, and St. Francis doesn’t lose, then a change in the No. 1 position would be probable.
3. (4) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 20-3
With a pair of shutout wins over Chaminade of West Hills, the Wolverines have won 11 of their last 12 games with the lone loss coming against No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana. Arden Pabst hit a grand slam home run and drove in six runs while Ezra Steinberg went 5-for-5 in their 19-0 win that saw them score five runs in the first inning and 10 runs in the second. Harvard-Westlake plays a pair of games against Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks this week.
4. (5) Granada (Livermore) 18-0
In a week that saw so many teams lose, the Matadors avoided suffering their first loss of the season with a 5-0 win over Livermore and a 4-3 win over San Ramon Valley of Danville. They needed late-inning heroics, however, to remain undefeated as they trailed the Wolves 3-1 heading to the 7th inning before scoring three runs to pull off the win. On Wednesday, Granada heads to Pleasanton to face Foothill.
5. (6) Buchanan (Clovis) 22-2-1
Working their way up a spot due to a loss by previous No. 3 Fountain Valley, the Bears continue to hold the top spot in the CIF Central Section after two wins over Clovis West of Fresno. They will play two games against Clovis this week before heading to the Dave Stewart Classic at the Oakland Coliseum on Saturday where they will face Clayton Valley of Concord.
6. (3) Fountain Valley 21-2
The Barons extended their winning streak to 16 with a 4-0 win over Los Alamitos, but were unable to make it 17 as they returned home and lost to the Griffins 10-1 for just their second loss of the season. Monty Plattner allowed just one hit in the win as he picked up his eighth win on the year. Despite the loss, Fountain Valley maintains a three-game lead in the Sunset League over Marina of Huntington Beach.
7. (11) Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 21-3
Now winners of 12 straight after three wins over Mt. Carmel of San Diego last week, the Broncos move into the top spot in the CIF San Diego Section after Granite Hills of El Cajon went down three times last week. With the section having an open division to help the team’s strength of schedule even more, we decided to give them an extra jump in the rankings this week over Oaks Christian of Westlake Village.
8. (9) Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) 20-3-1
While the Lions did get hopped by Rancho Bernardo, they did move up overall on the week as they defeated St. Bonaventure twice and No. 12 Bonita of La Verne. In a game that featured our top two teams in our Division III state rankings, it was the Lions who showed why they were No. 1 as Phil Bickford allowed just two hits and struck out 15 in the 4-1 win over the Bearcats in the Redondo Tournament championship game.
9. (14) Turlock 22-1
Make that 22 wins in a row for the Bulldogs after wins last week over Buhach Colony of Atwater and Merced. A 22-game win streak at this point of the season by any large school is impressive no matter any questions about the schedule. Turlock also has moved in front of all other CIF Sac-Joaquin Section teams, especially since Elk Grove now has four losses.
10. (7) Serra (San Mateo) 20-5
Despite losing twice last week, the fact that one of those losses came against No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View prevented the Padres from dropping too far. They also handed St. Francis its only loss earlier in the season. Four teams from the West Catholic Athletic League have been ranked inside our top 20 this season while currently three teams are ranked inside the top 15.
11. (16) Clovis North (Fresno) 21-5
It was two different kind of games against Clovis East of Clovis last week but both resulted in wins for the Broncos as they were victorious 2-0 and 16-7. Nick Perez pitched six scoreless innings before Trent Ashford picked up the save in the 2-0 win. Ranked second overall in the CIF Central Section due to their overall body of work, the Broncos do have a win over No. 5 Buchanan of Clovis and they will play the Bears twice to end the regular season in two weeks.
12. (12) Bonita (La Verne) 21-3-1
The Bearcats’ 10-game winning streak came to an end in the finals of the Redondo Tournament but that loss didn’t cause them to move at all since it came by 4-1 against No. 8 Oaks Christian of Westlake Village. Two shutout wins over Los Altos of Hacienda Heights earlier in the week kept the win streak going.
13. (20) Lincoln (Stockton) 18-2-1
Sophomore Trent North singled with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Trojans a 2-1 win over their rivals from Stockton St. Mary’s. Lincoln had not beaten the Rams for five straight years, which isn’t surprising because St. Mary’s has won the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title the last three seasons. A win over St. Mary’s added to previous big wins over Turlock (it was in the season-opener) and Jesuit of Carmichael helps Lincoln move up seven spots this week. This week, though, could be very tough. The Trojans play Tracy, which is surging in recent weeks due to the return of UCLA-bound pitcher Jonah Wesely (who was batting but who wasn’t pitching until the last two weeks).
14. (NR) Carlsbad 19-4
With both Granite Hills of El Cajon and Cathedral Catholic of San Diego losing last week, we moved the Lancers to the second spot in the CIF San Diego Section and with that they become our highest ranked newcomer this week as well. Carlsbad won three times last week over Rancho Buena Vista of Vista. On the year, the Lancers have a win over Westview of San Diego and three wins over Vista while currently at 9-0 in the Avocado West League.
15. (NR) Bellarmine (San Jose) 19-6
Ringing their way into the top 20 for the first time this season are the Bells, who picked up wins last week against Valley Christian of San Jose to avenge an earlier loss, and Archbishop Mitty of San Jose. Three of their six losses have come against No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View and No. 10 Serra of San Mateo in the difficult West Catholic Athletic League. The Bells will have a chance to pull off a big win this week as they host the Lancers on Tuesday in the final week of league play.
16. (13) Elk Grove 18-4
Before last week, the Thundering Herd had trouble winning more then four games in a row but that ended as they increased their winning streak to six games with a pair of wins over Franklin of Elk Grove before ending the week with a loss to Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento in their fourth game of the week. Sliding to the No. 3 spot in the section because of the four losses, the Thundering Herd still look like serious threats for the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section title come playoff time so they will remain inside the Top 20 during a week that saw so many other teams lose.
17. (17) Canyon (Anaheim) 17-5
The Comanches split a pair of games against El Modena of Orange after defeating Foothill of Tustin. All of that didn’t cause them to drop as they still have wins over teams like Fountain Valley, Chatsworth and Loyola of Los Angeles. Currently in second place behind El Dorado of Placentia in Century League play, Canyon will face Brea Olinda of Brea on Tuesday before two games against Villa Park later in the week.
18. (8) Lutheran (Orange) 16-6
Perhaps looking ahead to this week that will see them face No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana, the Lancers fall 10 spots after two losses to Santa Margarita of Rancho Santa Margarita. If the Lancers can get at least one win against the Monarchs this week, they will likely remain in or move up next week while a pair of losses, even to the top team in the state, will perhaps knock the Hard 9 Classic champions into the bubble.
19. (NR) Casa Grande (Petaluma) 19-1
We’ve had an eye out on the Gauchos for the last few weeks and this week we are able to move them in as they have now won 19 in a row since losing their season opener against Wood of Vacaville. Hurting them from getting into the rankings sooner is their strength of schedule. Before league play, they did have wins over Vintage of Napa, Campolindo of Moraga and Cardinal Newman. They probably will have to beat Campo again in order to end the season with a CIF North Coast Section Division II title.
20. (NR) San Dieguito (Encinitas) 21-4
The Mustangs’ rode their way back into the top 20 with three wins over San Pasqual last week. Senior Noah Huggins pitched seven shutout innings in their final win of the week that saw them win twice by 2-0 scores and once by a 3-2 final score. San Dieguito plays two games this week against Escondido starting on Tuesday.
Teams That Dropped
Previous No. 10 Granite Hills (El Cajon); No. 15 El Toro; 18 Cathedral Catholic (San Diego); No. 19 Redlands.
Teams On The Bubble
Agoura (Agoura Hills) 19-8, Alemany (Mission Hills) 16-8, Benicia 22-3, Campolindo (Moraga) 12-6-1, Capistrano Valley (Mission Viejo) 18-9, Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 16-6, Clovis 19-7, Cypress 19-6, Davis 18-5, De La Salle (Concord) 12-5, Diamond Bar 17-4, El Dorado (Placentia) 16-7, El Toro 16-6, Granite Hills (El Cajon) 16-7, Grossmont (La Mesa) 17-6, Jesuit (Carmichael) 16-5, La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 16-5, Loyola (Los Angeles) 18-8, Marina (Huntington Beach) 14-8, Mission Viejo 16-9-1, Moorpark 20-6, Nogales (La Puente) 19-4, Redlands 15-5, Redlands East Valley (Redlands) 18-4-1, San Clemente 20-6, Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 13-10, Serra (Gardena) 19-5, St. Augustine (San Diego) 17-6, St. Mary’s (Stockton) 11-12, West Ranch (Valencia) 14-7, Woodcreek (Roseville) 15-5.
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