There has been much consternation and gnashing of teeth the past several years over the Central Coast Section playoffs. Doesn’t really matter what the sport, there is always some fans upset over one perceived slight or another.
But if fans of high school baseball have not been monitoring this year’s CCS playoff brackets, you’ve been missing some damn good ball. This year, CCS created an Open Division for the top 16 teams in all of CCS. But it can also stand for opening up the rest of the playoffs in the other two brackets to other teams.
This is arguably one of the most competitive CCS baseball tournaments in recent history and I can’t imagine real fans are begrudging the West Catholic Athletic League this season. Sure, three of the four teams in the Open Division semifinals are from the toughest league in the section, but that shouldn’t take away from the fantastic tournaments going on in the Open, Division I and Division II.
Let’s break down the tournament thus far. First, the semifinalists. While the WCAL has three of the four semifinal spots in the Open, the highest remaining seed going into Wednesday’s games is No. 4 Valley Christian. The Warriors face No. 8 Leland, which knocked off top-seed Leigh Saturday. On the other side of the bracket, you have a No. 11 Bellarmine team coming off a no-hitter against No. 3 St. Francis, versus No. 7 Mitty, which may be having its best seasons, considering St. Francis was getting all the buzz this year.
The only No. 1 team left standing is in Division I, where top-seeded Wilcox squeezed into the semifinals following a 2-1 win over Homestead Saturday. The Chargers face a surging Menlo-Atherton squad, which came into the tournament with the No. 12 seed. Westmont is the highest remaining seed in Division I with a No. 2 rank and it’ll face another Peninsula Athletic League team in No. 3 Sequoia.
The Division II finals are set with No. 6 St. Francis-Watsonville facing No. 8 Branham. But in the semifinals, No. 2 Monterey was the highest remaining seed. Along with St. Francis and Branham, No. 12 Menlo School rounded out the final four in Division II.
Now let’s take a closer look at the numbers themselves. Thirty-eight games have been played in the three divisions as of Tuesday and the norm has been close, tight games. Fourteen games have been decided by one run — five in the Open, four in Division I and five in Division II.
Of those 14 one-run games, five were decided in extra innings.
There have been six games decided by two runs, five games decided by three runs and 13 games decided by four runs or more.
In fact, there have been only three games in which teams scored double-digit runs. In Division I, No. 1 Wilcox beat No. 16 South City 12-2, the only game in the tournament thus far to see a 10-run differential. Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz each put up 10-spots — Pacific Grove beat St. Lawrence 10-5, while Santa Cruz downed Gilroy 10-2.
The CCS softball tournaments have been equally competitive, even though the chalk has mostly held up. Going into Tuesday’s semifinals, the top four seeds advanced to the final four in Division II and Division III, with only No. 5 Wilcox cracking the top-four in Division I.
That hasn’t made the games any less competitive, however. Through 30 games in three divisions, there have been only five games that have ended because of the 10-run mercy rule. Usually, the brackets are littered with one-sided results.
A pair of those 10-run games have involved PAL teams: Capuchino beat Monterey 10-0 in a first-round game in Division II and in Division III, Half Moon Bay beat Castilleja 12-2.
Even San Benito, the eight-time Division I defending champion and the No. 3 seed this season, was pushed by No. 2 Leland in Tuesday’s semifinal game, needing eight innings to beat the Chargers 4-3.
Now, can top-seeded Carlmont get back to the finals and unseat the Haybalers’ juggernaut? We’ll find out today as the Scots face Wilcox in a semifinal game at Hawes Park. First pitch is 4:30 p.m.
Nathan Mollat can be reached by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You follow him on Twitter@CheckkThissOutt.