Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Inland Empire: Key first-round baseball games
By Dan Arritt
SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS
Corona Santiago at No. 1 Huntington Beach Edison, Friday, 3:15 p.m.
Santiago has scored one-sided victories this season against second-seeded Mater Dei and third-seeded Vista Murrieta, but the Sharks weren’t facing the type of fastball they’ll see against Edison lefty Henry Owens, a consensus first-round pick in the upcoming major league draft. The game will also feature two of the Southland’s premier senior shortstops in Christian Lopes of Edison and Brandon Martin of Santiago. Lopes has committed to USC and Martin to Oregon State, but both are expected to go high in the draft as well.
Simi Valley Royal at No. 3 Vista Murrieta, Friday, 3:15 p.m.
Royal won its 12th consecutive game Tuesday, a 4-2 victory at Villa Park, earning an even longer bus ride to Southwestern Riverside County. The Highlanders finished fifth in the exceptionally deep Marmonte League and have four starters back from last season’s Division 1 semifinalists. The Broncos will ask sophomore right-hander Tyler Russell (8-1, 1.03) to defend their home turf.
Temecula Great Oak at No. 4 San Juan Capistrano JSerra, Friday, 3:15 p.m.
Another I.E. team that hopes to represent well against an O.C. powerhouse is Great Oak, which played Vista Murrieta tough in their three Southwestern League games. Great Oak shortstop Austin Bailey, who signed with San Diego,hit three home runs last week in the regular-season finale against Murrieta Mesa, giving him six on thes season. The most watched player will be JSerra catcher Austin Hedges, considered the best defensive prospect in the nation, high school or college.
Yucaipa at West Torrance, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.
When it comes to pitching, the Thunderbirds have the type of 1-2 punch that can carry them back to the finals for the second straight year. Justin Lewis (8-1) threw a two-hitter Tuesday in a 3-0 wild-card victory against visiting Rancho Cucamonga. Now it’s Kevin Davidson's turn. The senior right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.10 ERA and helps himself out at the plate with a .511 batting average. West Torrance won the Bay League.
Huntington Beach Ocean View at Colton, Friday, 3:15 p.m.
The Yellowjackets could have their hands full against an Ocean View team that's coming off a 4-3 wild-card victory Tuesday at Diamond Bar. The Sea Hawks don't allow many runs but neither does Colton junior right-hander Tyler Rich, who is 9-1 with 1.14 ERA.
Indio at Laguna Beach, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.
Geographically, this matchup is interesting in itself but also sets up to be a pretty even game. Indio, a 16-1 wild-card winner Tuesday against visiting Bloomington, showed its mettle against top-seeded Palm Desert this season, winning the Desert Valley League opener, 5-0, on March 22 before losing three days later, 2-1. Taking the ball for the Artists will be UC Santa Barbara-bound right-hander Chris Paul (9-1, 0.69).
Reno Smith helped Serrano advance to the first round with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh Tuesday in a 5-4 wild-card victory against Twentynine Palms. Woodcrest Christian is the defending champion and features two unbeaten pitchers in Trevor Oaks (9-0, 0.24) and Caleb Dirks (8-0, 1.58).
Mojave at No. 1 Cypress Oxford Academy, Thursday, 3:15
That wasn’t a misprint. Mojave won its wild-card game Tuesday, 33-16, against Victorville Excelsior Education Center. It’s safe to say if the Mustangs can come close to matching that offensive output, they’ll have a good chance at the upset.
Inglewood Animo Leadership at Temecula Prep, Friday, 3:15
Temecula Prep is led by sophomore right-hander Sam Sainz (7-1, 1.57).