Could Peninsula baseball fans have asked for better races than this season? Heading into the final week of the regular season, not only are the Peninsula Athletic League’s Bay and Ocean divisions still up for grabs, only two of the six Central Coast Section playoff spots appear to be locked up — but even that could change.
Here’s what I know: the PAL gets six automatic berths into the CCS tournament — the top four from the Bay and the top two from the Ocean.
Sequoia’s sweep of Mills pulled the Cherokees into a first-place tie with the Vikings and barring a mammoth upset, the two will take the two CCS berths from the Ocean. Assuming both teams win this week — against Westmoor and Jefferson, which are a combined 2-22 in league play — Sequoia will be the division’s top seed based on the head-to-head tiebreaker with Mills, which will go as the No. 2 team.
In the Bay Division, every team is still mathematically in the running for one of the top four places in the standings — and the CCS spot that comes with a finish in top four. And the schedule maker gave us some juicy matchups to close out the regular season.
Here’s what I know: Carlmont and Terra Nova will play twice to determine a Bay Division champion. But it’s not as cut and dry as that. Burlingame, a game behind both the Scots and Tigers, could make it a co-championship if the Panthers sweep Capuchino while Carlmont and Terra Nova split.
If Carlmont or Terra Nova sweep this week, the loser would be looking at an 8-6 record, which should be good enough for third place. But Half Moon Bay, Hillsdale and Menlo-Atherton could all get to 8-6 this week as well if they can win two their final two games of the regular season. Half Moon Bay and Hillsdale hook up this week, while M-A takes on Aragon, which, along with Capuchino, could sneak into that fourth playoff spot with seven losses. But they need to sweep this week and get a lot of help elsewhere.
In other words, buckle up and keep a close on eye this week’s Bay Division results.
And what can you say about Serra? A week ago, the Padres appeared destined for a second-place finish in the West Catholic Athletic League.
A week later, the Padres are the top seed in the WCAL playoffs and almost assuredly one of the top two seeds in the CCS playoffs which begin next week.
It took a perfect storm for the Padres to catch St. Francis, which started last week with a two-game lead over Serra. But the Lancers, who are ranked in the top 10 in the nation by both the MaxPreps.com polls, suffered its only two-game losing streak of the years — dropping games to Bellarmine and Valley Christian. Serra, meanwhile, won its games over Riordan and Sacred Heart Cathedral, giving the Padres and Lancers a share of the WCAL regular-season title.
But due to tiebreakers, Serra gets the No. 1 seed in the tournament. The first tiebreaker was head to head with St. Francis. The teams split the season series. The second tiebreaker was how both teams fared against third-place Bellarmine. St. Francis split with the Bells while Serra recorded the two-game sweep.
The PAL softball berths appear to be much more clear-cut. Carlmont, Half Moon Bay and Hillsdale all appear to have the top three spots locked up, while Woodside will claim the Ocean Division CCS berth for the PAL’s four automatic postseason berths.
The one remaining question is if the Bay Division’s fourth-place team will receive an at-large bid. Sequoia, which currently occupies fourth place, controls its own destiny, but it won’t be easy. The Cherokees finish up the regular season this week with home games against Aragon and Half Moon Bay. Both squads beat Sequoia during their first meeting this year.
If Sequoia loses both, it opens up the possibility of Burlingame sneaking into that fourth-place finish and enhance their chances at making CCS.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117. He can also be followed on Twitter @CheckkThissOutt.