Five of the top seven baseball teams from the Southeast/Long Beach area in the Southern Section playoffs have at least one thing in common. They enter postseason play Friday after suffering embarrassing losses in their regular-season finales.
Top-ranked Gahr High School (24-3), the 3-A Division top seed, fell to Downey, 7-2, in the San Gabriel Valley League.
- Whittier Christian, top-ranked (and seeded) in 1-A, was upset, 5-4, by Capistrano Valley Christian, which finished sixth in the Olympic League.
Whitmont League champion Pioneer had an 11-game winning streak snapped by runner-up La Serna, 5-3.
A coin flip had assured St. John Bosco that it would enter the playoffs as the league's top seed should it win its last game against Loyola and that it would finish in a tie with Notre Dame for the Del Rey League title. But Loyola upset the host Braves, 2-1, so Bosco must travel to Torrance Friday as the league's No. 3 representative.
Power-hitting Millikan, which held a three-game Moore League lead three weeks ago, was forced to share the title with Poly after the Jackrabbits defeated the Rams, 7-2. Poly advances to the league's No. 1 spot because of its two victories over the Rams.
A look at some of the top opening-round playoff games involving area teams. All games begin at 3 p.m. Friday, unless noted.
St. Paul (14-8) at Poly (19-7)--Poly has a seven-game winning streak. Right fielder Malcolm Perkins and third baseman Nick Riesgo combined for six hits in the win over Millikan. Junior pitcher Erick Bryant went 7-0 in league play. St. Paul, which won five of its final six games and is the Angelus League's No. 3 representative, is led in RBIs by catcher Chuck Graham.
Lakewood (13-4) at Ocean View (18-7)--Lakewood was upset, 7-6, by Wilson on Friday in 10 innings. Ocean View (Huntington Beach) backed into the Sunset League title after last-place Fountain Valley upset Huntington Beach. Coach Spud O'Neil's Lancers have stolen more bases than any team he has coached. Ocean View pitchers Rudy Taub and Craig Anderson were six-game winners.
Huntington Beach (14-9) vs. Millikan (20-5) at Blair Field, 7:30 p.m.--Both teams have played sporadically lately. The Oilers beat Ocean View last week to climb into a tie for the league title, then blew that by losing to Fountain Valley. Right-hander Jeff Haack (6-2 with a 2.26 ERA) is expected to pitch for Huntington Beach. Millikan Coach Dan Peters says he will pitch Mike Burns (10-3). Also available is Kevin Gail (8-1). The Rams have seven regulars hitting about .300.
St. John Bosco (17-4) at Torrance (19-6)--Braves Coach Ed Riley wonders which face his team will wear against the Ocean League champion. "It doesn't matter who we play," Riley said. "We're capable of beating--or losing--to anyone. I think we are afraid to be good." Infielder Cary Windes set new Bosco team records in home runs and total bases and tied the school mark for hits.
Tustin (15-7-1) at Gahr (24-3)--"We haven't been scoring a lot of runs lately," Gahr Coach Tom Bergeron said. "Losing Shawn Alves (eligibility) has hurt, but you don't keep hitting like we were all year." (Six starters are hitting above .300.) Bergeron may start pitcher Steve Vernola (9-1) against the Century League's No. 3 team. Also available is Derek Dehdashtian, who was 9-0 and also played first and third base.
Bell-Jeff (11-9) at Whittier Christian (16-2), 3:15 p.m.--This could be a track meet. Bell-Jeff has stolen more than 120 bases and the Heralds have stolen 75. Gernando Guana (.351), Tony Perez (.370) and Petar Vucurevic (.407) provide the power for Bell-Jeff. Pitchers Kevin Chavez (7-1) or Doug Irwin (8-1) will start for the Heralds. Six Heralds are hitting above .300, including Mike Neal (.416).