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On the Beat Baseball: Pitching the key to playoff success

Posted: May 19, 2014 10:48 p.m.
Updated: May 19, 2014 10:48 p.m.

Want to win a CIF baseball championship?


And pitch well.

At least in the Southern Section’s Division I.

Last year’s champion Harvard-Westlake allowed four runs in five games.

Since 2010, the four champions have allowed a combined 21 runs in 19 games.

We’ve said it before, in the postseason, teams need at least two very good pitchers to advance far.

Do the Foothill League teams have that?

Numbers say that they do.

According to Maxpreps, the Foothill League has three of the top 14 pitchers ERA-wise in the division — Saugus’ Anthony Donatella (No. 1, 0.56), West Ranch’s Jake Bird (No. 11, 1.08) and Hart’s Jack Ralston (No. 14, 1.21).

Donatella and Ralston are parts of great one-two punches with Eric Little (2.61 ERA) and Paul Richan (2.05), respectively.

So it would appear that Saugus (who is an at-large team and has to play a wild-card game) and Hart have the best chances to make a run of the Foothill teams.

However, Valencia’s an interesting prospect.

The Vikings have a history of playing tight in the postseason, which has resulted in some pretty good teams losing earlier than expected.

Valencia has a superb offense with the best trio of hitters in the Foothill in Keston Hiura, Chad Bible and Devin Davis (combined 23 home runs, .452 and .831 slugging percentage).

Many times in the past, their superb offenses have been bested by superb pitching.

Let’s see how they do this season under a different regime.

The decision: West Ranch has quite the decision to make.

Does it throw its ace in a Wednesday wild-card game against Chaminade, or does it save the ace for a potential first-round game against Century League champion Foothill High (which on paper is the toughest game to win)?

The benefit of saving the ace — in the Wildcats’ case, hard-throwing Jake Bird — is obvious.

The risk, however, could be high.

“We could see both scenarios. But you don’t want to get in a situation where we lose the first game and have our best pitcher on the bench,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill.

Burrill said there’s little chance of Bird pitching both games because of the amount of rest in between.

“I think we need to play it like we’re winning the whole thing instead of trying to win one game,” Burrill said as a clue to who he will go with on Wednesday.

West Ranch’s next best option to start appears to be junior A.J. West, who has a 2.15 ERA this season and a solid 1.12 WHIP.

Watch list: Three Division I players are rated in the top 100 of’s 2014 draft prospect list.

JSerra outfielder Marcus Wilson is No. 30, Orange Lutheran shortstop Josh Morgan is No. 90, and defending Division I champ’s Harvard-Westlake’s right-handed pitcher Jack Flaherty is No. 97.

Hart will see Morgan on Friday if Orange Lutheran wins its Wednesday wild-card game against Newport Harbor.

In 2004: This marks an anniversary for Division VII No. 1 seed Santa Clarita Christian.

It was 10 years ago this season that the Cardinals won the CIF-SS Division VI baseball championship — the last CIF baseball title for an SCV team and second overall.

In that tournament, the Cardinals beat the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds on the road before knocking off No. 1 seeded Joshua Springs in the championship game.

The starting pitcher for SCCS in that game was freshman Augie Detres.

The Cardinals’ ace in 2014 is another freshman — Noah Dent.


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