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With four of the top five teams in last week’s rankings suffering at least one loss, this week’s new state top 20 saw some movement, but maybe not as much as one would expect.
Despite losing a game, Mater Dei of Santa Ana remains in the top spot, which may cause some disappointment for the faithful of new No. 2 Granada of Livermore.
Extending their winning streak to 22 games with a 2-1 win early in the week over No. 16 Lutheran of Orange, the Monarchs were unable to rally late as Aaron Cross’s streak of scoreless innings came to an end in a 4-3 loss.
Mater Dei stays No. 1 because Orange Lutheran is a team the Monarchs also have beaten twice. They also have played a much stronger schedule than Granada, including major tourney titles at the National High School Invitational and Boras Baseball Classic. It’s basically a case of Mater Dei still looking like the strongest State Team of the Year contender if all of the top teams won section titles, even if Granada were to finish unbeaten.
Granada, which has played just two opponents from outside of the CIF North Coast Section, was able to move up two spots to the No. 2 position after two losses by previous No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View and one by previous No. 3 Harvard-Westlake of North Hollywood.
Toughest Choice: Grossmont or Whitney for No. 20
At 25-1 and with its only loss to a team it also has beaten twice, it was seriously considered to move in Whitney of Rocklin into this week’s top 20 overall rankings for the state.
The Wildcats, however, haven’t been ranked that high by the Sacramento Bee and haven’t played enough games against tougher teams from the nearby Sierra Foothill League. Still, it’s easy to be impressed with what they’ve done, especially standout senior J.R. Robinson, who began this week hitting .590 with 14 doubles and 45 RBIs, not to mention his 7-0, 0.91 ERA pitching slate.
The team that wound up getting the No. 20 position as one of two newcomers in this week’s rankings is Grossmont of La Mesa. We’re a little hesitant going with the Foothillers in the top 20 because we had yet to see a new San Diego Section top 10 ranking.
The strength of Grossmont’s case is leading the league and having a head-to-head win over Granite Hills of El Cajon, a team that was No. 1 in the section earlier in the season and has been in the top 10 of the state. The Foothillers do have six losses, but three are to Valhalla of El Cajon, which is a team they’ve also beaten three times. Other quality wins stand out over Vista (last year’s No. 1 team for the state), Mira Mesa and St. Augustine.
Senior infielder Nick Maida (.420) and senior shortstop Noah Buchanan (.372) are among Grossmont’s top hitters. Senior Joe Viskas (8-1, 1.74) has been leading the pitching staff.
Big games coming up
No. 17 Buchanan of Clovis, which fell out of the top five with two losses last week, will have a chance to move back up as it will play a pair of games against No. 9 Clovis North of Fresno to end the regular season. The Bears currently a game ahead of the Broncos for first place in the Tri-River Athletic Conference, but the Broncos are ranked higher as they own a 3-1 win over the Bears when they played their first of three games over a month ago.
No. 13 Elk Grove was able to get revenge for a loss earlier this season against Davis with a 12-2 win last week and will face the Blue Devils again on Tuesday with the Delta Valley League championship on the line. Both squads currently have identical 13-1 records as the final game to decide it all will be played with the Thundering Herd as the road team.
Players that shined
Justin Calomeni (Bellarmine, San Jose)
Getting the start against previous No. 2 St. Francis of Mountain View, he had a no-hitter into the seventh inning and allowed just one hit as he outdueled Lancers’ starter John Gavin in a 1-0 win that helped the Bells move into the top 10.
Matt Stumme (Lutheran, Orange)
Getting two hits and driving in two runs isn’t normally enough to get you listed as a state stat star but his runs were huge as the Lancers knocked off No. 1 Mater Dei of Santa Ana 4-3 and scored those runs off of Aaron Cross and Jacob Erickson, who had hardly given up any runs all season long.
Paul Muyskens contributed to this report.