FIRST Baseball State TOP 35 Rankings

Players from Orange Lutheran earned the first of what they hope will be several major trophies this season after their win last Friday over Corona to take the top spot at the Prep Baseball CA Spring Invitational. Photo: @olubaseball /

It wasn’t possible to do a preseason ranking this season with an earlier start than ever in Southern California right in the middle of basketball playoffs. It would have been No. 1 Corona and No. 2 Orange Lutheran. Those two just played so for this breakdown from us they are reversed. Valley Christian of San Jose also has gotten out to a strong start in Northern California.

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(Through games played on Saturday, March 9)
(No results counted for Monday, March 27)

1. Lutheran (Orange) 8-0
Winning the Prep Baseball CA Spring Invitational last Friday at Hart Park, 4-2, over Corona does give the Lancers a nice boost in the rankings and it came in a matchup of teams that would have been No. 1 and No. 2 in the preseason state rankings, but the Trinity League is beginning this week so head coach Eric Borba only used one pitcher for one inning. Brady Murrieta gave OLu a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a two-run homer. Highly regarded MLB prospect Derek Curiel, who is off to a great start with eight hits in his first 21 at-bats of the season, added an RBI double to help get a 4-0 lead. It’s not just the Trinity League beginning this week, either. OLu’s opening opponent for a three-game series could end up deciding the league title since it will be against two-time CIF Southern Section defending champion JSerra.

2. Corona 3-1
Bad weather forced the title game of the PBR Spring Invitational back almost a week on the schedule so the Panthers hadn’t played since Feb. 15 when they notched a big win over JSerra. Head coach Andy Wise didn’t use any excuses, but the loss doesn’t matter in the big picture plus his team doesn’t yet have transfers Brady and Trey Ebel eligible yet. The junior and sophomore played last season at Etiwanda. Returning State Freshman of the Year Anthony Murphy had an RBI triple and scored the other run in the 4-2 loss to Orange Lutheran on a dropped ball by the catcher.

3. Harvard-Westlake (Studio City) 8-1-1
One of the other major contenders for the CIFSS D1 title and a top nationally ranked preseason team is the Wolverines. Their only loss so far is to Orange Lutheran and they have wins over both JSerra and Santa Margarita. There also is a 1-0-1 pair of games they’ve played with Sierra Canyon. H-W already has begun playing opponents in the Mission League and opened up last week with a sweep of three games vs St. Francis of La Canada.

4. Valley Christian (San Jose) 6-0
The Warriors would be the easy choice to be No. 1 in Northern California for their strong start combined with two-time defending CIF NorCal D1 champion De La Salle taking an early-season loss. VC, which lost to DLS in the 2023 NorCal D1 regional final, has wins over Clovis North, Elk Grove, Dublin, Palo Alto, Santa Teresa (San Jose) and Jesuit (Carmichael). The team is starting West Catholic Athletic League play this week with a two-game set against Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco).

5. Huntington Beach 6-2
Four different pitchers combined on a two-hitter in a 1-0 win by the Oilers last Friday over Laguna Beach. Their only two losses so far have to come to higher-ranked Corona and Orange Lutheran. Two early quality wins have come against Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) and Cypress. Sophomore C.J. Weinstein has one homer and two triples in the eight games.

6. Carlsbad 4-0
The Lancers it is assumed will be No. 1 in the CIF San Diego Section this week after their win last week over Rancho Bernardo and Cathedral Catholic. Defending Open Division section champion and preseason No. 1 La Costa Canyon also had a loss earlier to Cathedral Catholic. In the 9-0 win over RB, four different Lancers homered — Matthew Kelley, Ayden Munoz, Tyler Ward and Griffin Moye.

Granite Bay players storm the field after they won 2023 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D2 championship. Photo: Courtesy Sacramento Bee.

7. Granite Bay 5-0
Yes, we know that some top pitchers are going to be used carefully, but results on the field are always going to be often the biggest reasons to rank teams in a particular order. Future results then cause more changes later on. The results are what puts Granite Bay up there so far in the NorCal pecking order and on top for the Sac-Joaquin Section. The Grizzlies already own a win over defending SJS D1 champion Franklin (Elk Grove) and they have a win over Elk Grove.

8. Maranatha (Pasadena) 5-1
This school known over the years for having one of the state’s top small school programs has gone big-time with its scheduling and has moved up in competitive equity divisions. The Minutemen have already taken on both Orange Lutheran and Santa Margarita from the Trinity League this season with a loss to the No. 1 Lancers but with a win over the Eagles. Since getting past Santa Margarita, Maranatha has topped Etiwanda, San Luis Obispo and Valley Christian of Cerritos.

9. Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 6-2-1
We will place the Eagles right behind the Maranatha team they have a loss to in these first rankings. Their other loss has been to higher-ranked Harvard-Westlake. The two best wins have come against La Mirada and Gahr of Cerritos but we don’t know about the three Texas teams that Santa Margarita played on a trip to the Lone Star State two weeks ago where it went 2-0-1. The team opens the Trinity League this week with a three-game series against 6-0 St. John Bosco.

10. De La Salle (Concord) 3-1
It was just the fourth game of the season for the Spartans last Saturday when they hosted Palo Alto. The Vikings were leading 3-1 heading into the bottom of the third inning when DLS erupted for seven runs and that sent it along to a 9-4 win. The Spartans were looking for a bounce-back win after they lost 3-2 to St. Mary’s of Stockton from earlier in the week. If they hadn’t lost to the Rams, they would be one spot higher than Valley Christian (San Jose) in these rankings.

11. Franklin (Elk Grove) 2-1
Another of the teams that we would have had even higher in the preseason rankings if we did them would have been the Wildcats. The defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section D1 champs with a lot of returning strength have just three games so far. One is a loss to Granite Bay, but we have the Grizzlies higher so Franklin can still be quite highly ranked. The team’s two wins are against Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) and Folsom.

12. Granada (Livermore) 5-0
The Matadors were No. 4 last week in the Bay Area and should move up after a win last week over Liberty of Brentwood plus previous No. 3 St. Ignatius (SF) taking a loss. They are from the same league as De La Salle.

13. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 5-1
It’s hard to get a good read so far on the Monarchs since almost all of their games have been against Texas teams, including the one loss to Prosper (Texas). The OC Register had them near the top of their rankings last week and they didn’t lose (win was against Dana Hills). MD also is playing Servite of Anaheim this week in a three-game series to begin the Trinity League portion of its schedule.

14. Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) 4-1
The Dons have a win over La Costa Canyon with a loss to higher ranked Carlsbad and were considered in the preseason to have one of the top three or four teams from the CIF San Diego Section. Indiana-bound pitcher Trey Telfer has 11 strikeouts in his first nine innings.

15. Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 3-1
This team went 28-2 last year and lost in the CIF NorCal D1 regional playoffs to Valley Christian (San Jose) after being moved up from a lower CIF North Coast Section division. The Cardinals opened this season with VC as well and suffered a 3-1 loss in a competitive game. They also already have a quality win over Clayton Valley of Concord.

Junior Noah Stead has hit four homers in the early season for unbeaten Westlake. Photo:

16. Westlake (Westlake Village) 9-0
Another assumption is that the Warriors may be No. 1 this week among CIF Southern Section D2 schools. Those divisional rankings in the CIFSS will be abandoned next year when it switches to a 100 percent competitive equity model in all sports. Westlake had one key win among its nine over Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth.

17. JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 4-3-1
Having a tie and a loss to Cypress has to cost the Lions some rankings spots for now, but as everyone in SoCal knows early losses like that mean nothing in the overall picture and development of a team. The two-time defending CIFSS D1 champs and the 2023 State Team of the Year could jump right back up there near the top after the three games this week with No. 1 Orange Lutheran in the Trinity League.

18. St. Mary’s (Stockton) 4-1
We have to give the Rams some rankings credit for posting a 3-2 win the previous weekend over NorCal powerhouse De La Salle. Their only loss is to Elk Grove, a team they can be ranked higher because it is 2-2. St. Mary’s also has other wins over Woodcreek of Roseville, Jesuit of Carmichael and Folsom (all outstanding programs in the SJS).

19. La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 3-1
The Mavericks have some solid returnees from last season’s squad that finished 26-7, won the CIF San Diego Section Open Division title and lost to Santa Margarita in the CIF SoCal D1 final (JSerra opted out). They have an early loss to Cathedral Catholic so we have them behind the Dons for now, but there’s also an early win over Granite Hills (El Cajon).

20. Bakersfield Christian 7-0
We don’t think this small school has ever been No. 1 in the Central Section for a major sport in any week, but there’s no doubt that it has to be that way for the early portion of this baseball season.. The Eagles have two wins over perennial power Buchanan of Clovis (D1 finalist last year) plus a 12-3 win over Stockdale of Bakersfield (D1 semifinals last year). Defending D1 champion Centennial (Bakersfield) also is out to slow start.

21. Bishop Amat (La Puente) 8-1
The Lancers already have a Monday win from the afternoon recorded on their schedule over Bishop Montgomery from Torrance to make them 9-1. Their only loss is in extra innings to a Bonita of La Verne team that otherwise has too many losses for a ranking. That loss also is balanced out from a big win last week over Servite of Anaheim.

22. Torrey Pines (San Diego) 5-0
The Falcons have only allowed six runs in their five wins. They also notched a win last week over a Patrick Henry (San Diego) team that started this week at 4-1 and was higher in one local ranking we saw.

23. South Hills (West Covina) 8-3
One of the Huskies’ losses was in the first game to Harvard-Westlake. Like Bishop Amat, they also had a big win last week over Servite of Anaheim. Luke Bauer pitched a one-hitter over five innings against the Friars in the 1-0 win. Teammates Matt Moreno and Christian Gomez both pitched one inning with no hits and one strikeout each.

24. Servite (Anaheim) 5-2
If not for losses last week to Bishop Amat and South Hills, the Friars would have been a lot higher for the first rankings. One of their wins has been against Arlington of Riverside, which is 8-0 against the rest of the teams it has played. Servite is taking on Mater Dei in this week’s first slate of games in the Trinity League.

25. St. John Bosco (Bellflower) 6-0
When it looked like it was possible to get all six Trinity League teams within the top 25, then it just about had to be done. The Braves are unbeaten like No. 1 Orange Lutheran, but haven’t played the same schedule as the others and they were lower-ranked according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram and CIF Southern Section. They will look to make more of a statement in this week’s three-game series with Santa Margarita.

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26. Oakmont (Roseville) 3-0

27. Whitney (Rocklin) 26-9

28. Arlington (Riverside) 8-1

29. Clayton Valley (Concord) 3-1

30. Liberty (Bakersfield) 6-1

31. Rancho Bernardo (San Diego) 0-1

32. Pioneer Valley (Santa Maria) 8-0

33. Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 6-3-2

34. Chaminade (West Hills) 6-3

35. Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 5-4-1

More Teams On The Bubble

Acalanes (Lafayette) 5-0
Central Catholic (Modesto) 3-0
Cypress 4-4-1
Elk Grove 2-2
Kingsburg 7-2
Oakdale 6-0
Patrick Henry (San Diego) 4-1
San Dimas 7-2
St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 5-1
Stockdale (Bakersfield) 6-2

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports

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