This week’s first regular season rankings for California baseball are complicated with a 0-0 tie taking place in a matchup of two top five teams. There are no ties in the rankings so we’ll leave those two teams — Elk Grove and Valley Christian of San Jose — right where they were. The tie did give us one more reason to jump defending CIFSS D1 champ El Toro up into the No. 2 spot. Preseason No. 1 Eastlake has started 2-0 and is still No. 1.
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(Preseason ranking listed in parentheses)
(Through reported results of Wednesday, March 7)
(Any scores for Thursday, March 8 not included)
1. (1) Eastlake (Chula Vista) 2-0
Sure, there are national rankings that have Cathedral Catholic of San Diego Section higher than the Titans, but the more local San Diego Union-Tribune started out Eastlake higher. There’s also no reason to switch to any other team for the No. 1 state ranking since Eastlake has wins of 4-0 over Vista and 14-2 over Westview to start the season. The Titans are playing Friday at the Aztec Foothiller tournament.
2. (15) El Toro (Lake Forest) 4-0
There are several reasons to jump the Chargers back up close to where they finished last year as the CIF Southern Section Division I champions. First, they’re No. 1 in the CIFSS Division I rankings released by the section office. Second, they were No. 2 in the L.A. Times Top 25 this week and then the No. 1 team in that poll (Corona) lost on Tuesday. And third, it looks like the Chargers have reassembled an elite lineup at the plate and on the mound. This ranking doesn’t include a scheduled Thursday game this week against Aliso Niguel.
3. (3) Elk Grove 0-0-1
There’s nothing worse for rankings when two top teams play each other and the game ends in a tie. That was the case on Tuesday when the Thundering Herd and Valley Christian of San Jose faced off. After 10 innings, our preseason No. 3 and preseason No. 4 teams were still scoreless at 0-0. We decided other than jumping El Toro to second that the tie wouldn’t impact either team’s ranking for this week. Elk Grove, the three-time defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 champs with gobs of returning talent, will be playing this weekend at the Central California Showcase in Clovis.
4. (4) Valley Christian (San Jose) 4-0-1
No, the tie with Elk Grove doesn’t cause a change for the Warriors, either. Head coach John Diatte’s club was higher than Elk Grove in some other rankings (NorCal & national) and has four additional wins to start, but we’re not going to rank them higher yet than the Thundering Herd until results prove otherwise. A tie doesn’t do that. Valley Christian has already won the Mike Hazlett tourney and has a quality 7-4 victory over Los Gatos.
5. (5) Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 1-0
In their first game of the season, the Dons roughed up Rancho Buena Vista of Vista 12-0. Four pitchers combined for the shutout. Jacob Allred had a triple and two RBI while Logan Whitesides had two hits, including a triple. Cathedral Catholic was scheduled to start the Hilltop Lolitas tourney on Thursday against Bonita Vista of Chula Vista.
6. (6) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 0-0
The Monarchs aren’t shown with a game on their schedule until the middle of next week. In those circumstances, which means when a team still hasn’t started, we always leave that team in place in the rankings. We don’t move them up and we don’t drop them, either. As the season goes on, league strength also becomes more or less of a factor in a team’s ranking. For Mater Dei, that means rooting for fellow Trinity League teams that have started to all do well.
7. (9) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 5-0
Sophomore Connor Skertich tossed five shutout innings and struck out six as the Knights won the Easton tourney 9-0 over Camarillo earlier this week. Harvard-Westlake and other top teams from the San Fernando Valley/Ventura area were in the Easton tourney as usual so we have bumped up the Knights a couple of spots for winning it. In the semifinals, junior Carter Kessinger pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts when Notre Dame topped Westlake of Westlake Village 4-2.
8. (7) Etiwanda 4-0
The Eagles are playing Arcadia on Friday in the title game of the Frozen Ropes Invitational. They won in the semifinals 15-4 against Los Altos of Hacienda Heights. Cody Freeman tripled twice and had four RBI, but it seemed just about everyone in the lineup with connecting. Tyler Bardowell went 2-for-2 with three runs, three RBI, one double and one triple. Gio Del Negro also went 2-for-2 with a double and triple, but he drove in four.
9. (8) Buchanan (Clovis) 6-0
The Bears didn’t win the Coca Cola Classic but they didn’t lose a game in the event, either, which uses run differential to determine the placement of finalists. Therefore, dropping them at all in the rankings because of that doesn’t make sense. Buchanan will continue to play a tough schedule at this weekend’s Central Valley Showcase. The team’s first game Friday is against defending CIF North Coast Section D1 champ De La Salle of Concord.
10. (11) Foothill (Pleasanton) 3-0
Talk about dominating pitching. That’s what the Falcons got in their third game of the season, which was 1-0 victory earlier this week over James Logan of Union City. Stanford-bound Brett Hansen pitched five innings and gave up no hits with 11 strikeouts. Foothill has a scheduled game Friday against College Park of Pleasant Hill.
11. (24) Bellarmine (San Jose) 5-0
It can be argued that preseason No. 4 and current No. 4 Valley Christian hasn’t even gotten the hottest start among teams from the West Catholic Athletic League. The Bells opened with a win against De La Salle, then swept two games in doubleheader against a Huntington Beach team that went back down south and pinned a loss on preseason state No. 2 Orange Lutheran. Bellarmine also has wins already against CIF Sac-Joaquin Section heavyweights Davis and Jesuit of Carmichael.
12. (12) La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 1-0
The Mavericks weren’t as high as Torrey Pines in the San Diego Section preseason rankings, but won their first game while the Falcons already have an early loss to Bishop’s of La Jolla. They were playing on Thursday in a first-round game of the Hilltop Lolotas tourney as these rankings were being done. In that first game, LCC beat Poway 6-2. Keaton Carattini struck out nine in five innings of pitching, junior Max Stanley homered and junior Garrett Bevacqua drove in three runs.
13. (13) Stockdale (Bakersfield) 7-0
After falling behind 4-0 in the top of the first inning, the Mustangs roared back to beat Liberty of Bakersfield to take the title at the Terrio tournament. A two-run single in the bottom of the first by Kade Sheedy began the comeback. By the bottom of the second, Stockdale was already ahead 5-4 after a three-run double by Cory Blackburn. The team will meet one of the better teams in Southern California, West Ranch of Valencia, on Friday.
14. (14) Santiago (Corona) 2-0
We had to do our preseason rankings before some others came out and when we did we pegged Santiago as the top team out of the Big VIII League. We didn’t include 2017 CIFSS D1 runner-up Corona High. Yes, we should have but this week Corona has lost to Foothill of Tustin while the Sharks are 2-0 with wins over Roosevelt of Eastvale and Redlands. Corona could still make us look silly by winning the Big VIII League title, but we’re not dropping the Sharks from where we had them and will not drop them if they keep winning. They will play Hart of Newhall on Saturday in a doubleheader.
15. (NR) Ayala (Chino Hills) 5-0
A 5-4 win on Tuesday over No. 18 Mission Viejo helps push the Bulldogs up into the State Top 20. They began the week at No. 1 in the CIFSS Division II rankings and have been climbing since a win over preseason state No. 23 Vista Murrieta. Ayala was playing San Clemente on Thursday as these rankings were being written up. Other wins have come against Murrieta Mesa (doubleheader sweep) and Bishop Amat of La Puente.
16. (NR) Clovis North (Fresno) 7-0
There was a lot of turmoil in this program after last season when former head coach Chris Patrick was let go and eventually replaced by Jeff Prieto. The Broncos have left all of that behind them. They won the Coca Cola Classic tourney (which included preseason state-ranked Buchanan and Clovis) with a 2-1 win in the final over Clovis West of Fresno. Buchanan still ranked higher because the Bears didn’t lose in the event, either. Riley Cooper picked up the win in the title game. The Broncos are playing Friday against San Luis Obispo.
17. (NR) Serra (San Mateo) 3-0
Shane Wallace cracked a pair of doubles and had four RBI as the Padres battered Palo Alto earlier this week 18-0. Mitchell Scott pitched five innings for the win and gave up just two hits. Serra is playing Burlingame on Friday and then on Saturday hooks up with St. Mary’s of Stockton, which was No. 22 in our preseason rankings. At 0-0, we didn’t move in the Rams into the State Top 20. But indications are this is a strong Serra team this season and the WCAL may be even more insane than usual.
18. (NR) Mission Viejo 4-1
Although the Diablos just lost their first game to Ayala, we’re putting them in this week’s State Top 20 anyway. Ayala is simply going in higher. Mission opened the season with a doubleheader against defending Trinity League champion St. John Bosco of Bellflower (which also was No. 21 in our preseason rankings) and won both games. The Diablos were playing Thursday against Yorba Linda in a Loara tourney game.
19. (NR) Corona 5-1
As mentioned in the Corona Santiago writeup, we probably should have had the Panthers in the preseason State Top 25. We saw them in the CIFSS D1 final and just remembered the three dominant seniors they had and didn’t look close enough at some of the other players coming back. The team just lost its first game 5-2 to Foothill of Tustin and began the week at No. 1 in the L.A. Times Top 25 and at No. 2 in the CIFSS Division I poll.
20. (10) Harvard-Westlake (North Hollywood) 5-1
Some of the preseason rankings for the Wolverines were all over the map in the aftermath of the season-ending injury to ace pitcher Jesse Burgin. We put them 10th, but the L.A. Times went with them at No. 1 regardless and we didn’t see that before compiling ours. Since then, Harvard-Westlake has been in the Easton tourney. A 1-0 loss to Calabasas sent the team into the consolation bracket, but this week the bouncing back continued with wins against Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks.
Teams That Dropped Out
Previous No. 2 Lutheran (Orange), No. 16 Davis, No. 17 Servite (Anaheim), No. 18 Huntington Beach, No. 19 Clovis, No. 20 De La Salle (Concord).
Teams On The Bubble
Acalanes (Lafayette) 4-0
Clovis West (Fresno) 7-1
Foothill (Tustin) 3-1
Franklin (Elk Grove) 2-0
Huntington Beach 5-2
Lutheran (Orange) 1-2
San Ramon Valley (Danville) 2-0
Servite (Anaheim) 4-1
St. Mary’s (Stockton) 0-0