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Orange Empire Affirms Its Baseball Dominance

May 06, 1997|STEVE KRESAL

The Orange Empire Conference--clearly the strongest in baseball in California--stepped up to a new level of superiority Monday when the Southern California playoff pairings were announced.

The conference got three of the top four seeded spots, led by Rancho Santiago (37-6-1), which has won three of the past four state titles, including the last two under Coach Don Sneddon.

Orange Empire Conference teams have also filled 10 of the past 14 spots from Southern California to the state tournament dating to 1990.

Saddleback (33-8) was seeded second and Cypress (33-10-1) fourth. The teams tied for second when Cypress lost to Rancho Santiago Saturday. Saddleback, which beat Cypress in three of four meetings, is the first second-place team to get the No. 2 seeding since this playoff format was adopted in 1988.

Cypress Coach Scott Pickler was the conference's representative to the seeding meeting.

"I thought our conference deserved the top three spots," he said.

Riverside (34-10), which finished fourth, got the No. 10 spot in the 16-team field. The best-of-three playoffs start Friday with two games Saturday if needed.

In local matchups: No. 16 San Bernardino (20-22) is at No. 1 Rancho Santiago; No. 15 Southwestern (26-26) is at No. 2 Saddleback (33-8), and No. 13 Hancock (29-15) is at No. 4 Cypress (33-10-1).

The other pairings: No. 14 Mt. San Antonio (29-12) is at No. 3 Cuesta (37-7); No. 12 Bakersfield (28-15) is at No. 5 Los Angeles Harbor (32-11); No. 11 El Camino (27-16) is at No. 6 Grossmont (33-12); No. 10 Riverside is at No. 7 Citrus (28-12), and No. 9 Cerritos (29-12-3) is at No. 8 Citrus (31-13).

The winner of each series advances to the second round, which will be held at the home sites of the two highest-seeded remaining teams.

The two double-elimination regional tournaments are May 16-18, with the winner of each advancing to the state tournament May 24-26 in Fresno.

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