SAN DIEGO — The last two seasons, Santana High School and Patrick Henry have taken turns serving as spoilers for one another.
Two years ago, en route to a berth in the San Diego Section 3-A championship game, Patrick Henry lost only one game all season--to Santana. Last season, when Santana defeated Mt. Carmel for the 3-A championship, the Sultans suffered only two losses--one to Patrick Henry.
Today, as the section baseball playoffs begin, the two schools will be at it again. Only this time, the winner will spoil the other's season for good.
Santana (18-7) and Patrick Henry (15-7-1) will meet at Patrick Henry at 3 p.m. in a first-round 3-A division game. The winner will meet No. 2-seeded Orange Glen (19-6) in the quarterfinals Thursday.
Santana has a different look from that of the championship team of a year ago. Coach Jim Saska returned only two starters--outfielder Bill Reed and second baseman Bruce Moutaw.
But the Sultans still finished third in the Grossmont League behind No. 2-ranked Granite Hills and No. 3-ranked Grossmont.
"No question that I have a younger team this year," Saska said. "Last year, we just had good talent at each position. This year, we've had to scrap a little bit more. But I like our chances in the playoffs."
Patrick Henry led the City Eastern League most of the season but lost its last two games at home to finish second behind Madison. Catcher Eric Helfand, who possesses the county's strongest throwing arm and a .400 batting average, leads the Patriots.
In other 3-A games, all at 3 p.m., Fallbrook (18-8) plays at Hilltop (11-9), El Capitan (14-11) at Mt. Carmel (19-6), and Mira Mesa (15-10) at Grossmont (20-7). In 2-A games at 3 p.m., Mar Vista (14-9-2) plays at San Diego (17-8-1), La Jolla (15-10-1) at Coronado (16-8), USDHS (17-8) at San Pasqual (15-9) and Carlsbad (13-11) at Clairemont (13-11-1).