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(After games of Tuesday, March 3)
(Preseason ranking in parentheses)
(Contributing: Northern California correspondent Daniel Poulter)
1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 1-0
Northern California is full of talent this season and De La Salle has the opening claim to be the best of the bunch. The Spartans started their season with a funky showing, as De La Salle defeated Bellarmine College Prep (San Jose) 4-3 in a three-pitcher combined no hitter. De La Salle star hurler Kyle Harrison had the hill for most of the game, as the senior UCLA commit threw for four innings while surrendering three runs and striking out seven batters. Harrison only allowed 27 walks last season, but the Bells grabbed three on Saturday in San Jose. Bellarmine picked up a 3-1 advantage after the first two innings, but the Spartans calmed down for the victory. De La Salle will be tested early and often this season, with the Spartans playing Elk Grove on Wednesday of this week. As far as being No. 1 in the state, for us this is just how we’ve always done it for a team with a historically great win streak and DLS is taking one of 29 games into this week (one of the longest in state history). The Spartans will be No. 1 in these state rankings until they lose.
2. (3) Lutheran (Orange) 6-0
From a strength of schedule standpoint so far, the Lancers would have to be No. 1 in the state and perhaps the nation. They’ve only allowed four runs in their six games and have already beaten La Mirada, Valley Christian of San Jose and last year’s CIF Southern Section D1 champion, Cypress, twice. OLu will start its quest for the Trinity League title next week vs. Mater Dei.
3. (6) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 3-0
MaxPreps’ No. 1 team in the nation has been more than fine so far with its pitching injury concerns. Of course, you wouldn’t expect MaxPreps to drop the Knights at all from their preseason position as long as they keep winning. We wouldn’t do that, either, and who do you think first taught Kevin Askeland of MaxPreps how to do rankings in the first place? Yes, he interned for us way back in the late 1980s. Notre Dame opened its Mission League schedule on Tuesday and behind the pitching of Lucas Gordon (14 strikeouts) rolled past Crespi of Encino 13-2.
4. (7) JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 10-0
This is the California PBR No. 1 team and has been more than equal to that ranking, especially in its last three games (all wins over state-ranked Huntington Beach). The first of those matchups came last weekend in the championship of the Newport Elks tourney. The Lions won 3-2 on a walk-off sacrifice fly. Then on Tuesday of this week, the two teams met in a previously scheduled doubleheader. In the first game, Jared Glenn struck out eight and Cody Schrier went 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI in a 6-1 triumph. The Lions then beat the Oilers in the second game, 3-1.