Baseball: El Camino Real is closing in on No. 1 seed for Division I playoffs

Conquistadores clinch at least share of West Valley title

The City Section doesn't announce its baseball playoff pairings until Monday, but it's clear who the No. 1 team is going into the playoffs.

That would be the El Camino Real Conquistadores (22-7, 8-1). They clinched at least a share of the West Valley League title on Tuesday with a 9-2 victory over Cleveland.


A three-run first inning left the Cavaliers (21-10, 7-2) on the defensive from the outset. And with All-City pitcher Jeremy Polon on the mound, they had little chance to come back. A six-run fifth turned the game into a rout.

Cleveland did score two runs off Polon in the sixth, and that was an accomplishment. Polon and No. 2 starter Jordan Berg threw shutouts last week. And that's what will make the Conquistadores the Division I title favorites _ their pitching and defense. The No. 3 pitcher, Matt Malconian, came on in the seventh and struck out two of the three Cleveland hitters.

"Our pitching has been good all year," catcher Eric Yang said. "They throw strikes. They get ahead of the batters."

Seven of El Camino Real's nine starters are juniors, but they sure aren't playing young these days. Jake Baer had an RBI double. Marc Michiel had a two-run double. James Terrazas had an RBI double.

Even if El Camino Real were to lose to Cleveland on Thursday, creating a possible three-way tie for first with Chatsworth, the Conquistadores still look like the No. 1 seed based on their recent play and strength of schedule, though the seeding committee would certainly appreciate not having to figure out how to seed in a three-way tie.

Chatsworth stayed in contention with a 7-3 win over Granada Hills. Andrew Renteria hit a home run during a five-run sixth. Peter Abinanti finished with three RBIs. Sam Shaikin, Daniel Zakosek and Ethan Lageson each had two hits.

Birmingham defeated Taft, 4-3. Adrian Rodriguez threw a complete game. Ivan Lomeli went three for three. Alexis Miranda had two RBI.

In the Western League, Hamilton clinched the championship with an 11-1 win over Fairfax. Hector Velazquez had two doubles and three RBI. Ethan Lazar added three hits.