Two PAL Bay Division baseball teams, along with WCAL stalwart Serra, remain alive in the Central Coast Section playoffs and all will be playing for spots in the division finals this weekend, weather permitting.
Here’s a look at the matchups:
No. 5 Serra (18-9) vs No. 1 Valley Christian (27-4) at Municipal Stadium-San Jose, 7 p.m.
The two West Catholic Athletic League rivals meet for the third time this season, with a spot in the Open Division final going to the winner.
Serra advanced to the semifinals with a 5-2 win over No. 4 Santa Cruz, while top-seeded Valley Christian blanked No. 8 Palo Alto, 4-0.
Valley Christian — ranked sixth in the state, 15th in the nation by maxpreps.com and won both the WCAL regular season and tournament titles — buried Serra in the first meeting of the season, 10-0 March 15.
But the Padres returned the favor three weeks later, winning a pitcher’s duel, 1-0 April 4 amid a nine-game winning streak.
The Padres won’t wow opponents with their bats, they’re batting .274 as a team. But when you combine that with a pitching staff that has a team ERA of 2.29, coupled with .951 field percentage, the Padres are in every game.
Serra will need to manufacture some runs when facing the Warriors’ pitching staff, which has a team ERA of 1.40, led by a 0.28 mark from Steven Zobac and a 1.79 from Will Kempner who are a combined 12-3.
No. 2 Menlo School (17-9) vs No. 3 Monte Vista Christian (15-13) at Washington Park-Santa Clara, 4 p.m.
Menlo is among the hottest teams in CCS, while MVC is on the other end of the spectrum.
The Knights cruised by No. 7 Thomas More in the quarterfinals 8-0 Saturday. The Mustangs slipped past No. 6 Scotts Valley 2-0 to move into the semifinals.
Menlo was just 3-4 on the season and were coming off a sweep at the hands of rival Sacred Heart Prep to open the Bay Division season. But the Knights won 15 of their last 19 games, including the victory over Thomas More. They won eight straight after the second loss to the Gators and, after a lull that saw them go 3-3, finished the regular season with four straight wins.
MVC, on the other hand, limped into the playoffs. The Mustangs opened the season by going 7-1, but were just 3-7 over their final 10.
No. 5 King’s Academy (15-13) vs No. 1 Pacific Grove (22-4) at Washington Park-Santa Clara, 7 p.m.
King’s Academy tied for third place in the PAL’s Bay Division, earning the Knights an automatic berth into the CCS Division III bracket where they will try to defend their 2018 championship.
The Knights cruised past No. 4 Palma in the quarterfinals Saturday, 10-3, while Pacific Grove beat up on Summit Shasta, 14-1.
King’s Academy won 23 games in the regular season last year before outscoring three CCS opponents 29-3 on their way to the title.
It’s a different — younger — team for the Knights this season, but they may be more battle-tested after slogging through the Bay Division schedule for the first time.
The Knights will have their hands full with the top-seeded Pacific Grove Breakers, who return to CCS after missing out last season following six straight appearances and two Division III championships in 2012 and 2013.
But the Breakers have had a tough time against team from the PAL the last couple seasons. As the No. 3 seed, the Breakers were bounced in the first round by Half Moon Bay in 2017. They also lost to Menlo in the 2016 semifinals.