Orange Lutheran and JSerra land first two seeds in CIF-SS Division 1 baseball playoffs – Orange County Register
Orange County teams received the top four seeds in the CIF South Section Division 1 baseball playoff bracket.
Trinity League champion Orange Lutheran (24-4) was ranked No. 1 in the CIF-SS playoff pairings that were released on Monday. Trinity League runner-up JSerra (18-10) is seeded second, Empire League champion Cypress (21-5-2) is seeded third and Surf League champion Huntington Beach (20-8) is seeded fourth.
Cypress, Huntington Beach and Orange Lutheran, along with Foothill, were byes in the first round of Division 1.
It’s the first first-round pass for Cypress coach John Weber in 16 seasons at the helm of the Centurions.
“I asked (JSerra coach) Brett Kay if he liked having the first-round bye last year,” Weber said. “He said he did.”
Last season, JSerra qualified for the Division 1 championship game in which the Lions lost to Harvard-Westlake.
Four first-round byes are usually a big number for Division 1 baseball. The reason for so many byes is that only 25 of the 34 teams in the Division 1 category finished high enough in their league’s final standings to automatically qualify for the 32-team playoffs.
Three of the division’s non-automatic qualifiers had the .500 or better record needed to be general teams, so El Dorado, Santa Margarita and Thousand Oaks filled three spots as general teams to make them 28 teams, leaving the division four teams short of 32 teams, so the four byes in the first round.
It seemed odd that second-seeded JSerra didn’t get a first-round bye, but Kay accepted the reasoning…sort of.
“We’re not a league champion, so I’m okay with that part,” Kay said. “Because of that, we shouldn’t be the No. 2 seed. But a No. 2 seed should get a bye.
Foothill beat Villa Park twice last week to win the Crestview League Championship. Villa Park entered the week as the No. 1 team in the Division 1 top 10 after winning the championship at the prestigious Boras Classic South tournament. Foothill’s two wins eliminated Villa Park from the No. 1 position, gave Foothill the bye to the first round of Division 1 and dropped Villa Park to No. 6 in the Division 1 top 10. The Spartans have a first-round home game against Ayala on Friday.
Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba, when asked if he thought the first-round bye could be good or bad for his team, replied “ask me next week”.
It will be 12 days between the Lancers’ final regular-season game and their May 10 second-round home game against the Damien-Bonita winner.
“If you become one of the top 16 teams in the division without having to play,” Borbas said, “that could make the road much easier.”
Divisions that had more than 32 automatic playoffs have wildcard games to reduce their rosters to 32 teams for the first round. Wild card games are played in divisions 4, 5 and 7.
The other Orange County team ranked No. 1 in its division is Los Amigos. The Garden Grove League champions Lobos (22-4) have a first-round game at home on Friday against wildcard winner Leuzinger-Newbury Park Adventist.
The baseball playoffs begin with wildcard games Tuesday in Division 4 and Wednesday in Divisions 5 and 7. The Orange County teams playing wildcard games are Katella and Savanna in Division 5 and Santiago in the division 7.
First-round matches will be played on Thursday in Divisions 2, 4 and 6, and Friday in Divisions 1, 3, 5 and 7. Second-round matches will be played on May 10, quarter-finals on May 13, semi-finals on May 17 and the finals on May 20 and 21.