It's time for rivalry week in high school baseball.
Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar go at it first, and then Estancia and Costa Mesa. It doesn't get any better in the Newport-Mesa area during this time of the year.
The Battle of the Bay between Newport Harbor and CdM is Monday. The Back Bay schools play a nonleague doubleheader at UC Irvine. The first game is set for 4 p.m., and the second one is at 7.
The Battle for the Bell, pitting Estancia and Costa Mesa, is a weeklong event. The three-game series starts at Costa Mesa on Tuesday, goes to Estancia on Wednesday, and then back to Costa Mesa on Friday. All games are at 3:15 p.m. and the two schools open Orange Coast League play.
All four teams wrapped up Newport Elks Tournament play in their respective divisions on Friday. Newport Harbor fared the best, going 4-1 in the Foothill Division, while CdM lost all five of its games in the same division. Costa Mesa went 2-3 and Estancia 1-4 in the OC Division.
Early on, the Sailors appear to boast the best local team. They have standout pitchers in UCI-bound senior Shaun Vetrovec, Cal State Fullerton-bound senior Connor Seabold and junior Liam Ogburn. The staff shut three opponents out and allowed just three runs in the Newport Elks Tournament.
Expect many low-scoring affairs this season involving the Sailors, who are off to their best start since 2010, when they last made the CIF Southern Section playoffs. The Sailors do face a winless team next, but CdM lost three tight games in the Foothill Division. Senior pitchers Tyler Duncan and Brett Olson have kept the Sea Kings competitive.
The two coaches, Newport Harbor's Evan Chalmers and CdM's John Emme, know each other well. The two friends have coached against each other in the Battle of the Bay four times. They've been on the same side in the game four times.
With Chalmers back at Newport Harbor and no longer assisting Emme at CdM, he gets to manage against Emme again. Chalmers' record against Emme is 2-3. Emme has enjoyed success against the Sailors, going 9-6 in the last nine seasons.
The Battle for the Bell has been one sided in recent seasons.
Estancia has owned Costa Mesa, winning the past 10 matchups. The Eagles have claimed the Paul Troxel Trophy in each of the past four seasons.
Things might change this season. Paul Grady, in his second season at the helm of his alma mater, has 10 seniors playing for the Mustangs. Connor Howard, a pitcher, is one of the team's best players.
Jason Rodriguez and Connor Brown lead Estancia. Rodriguez is hitting .556 and Brown .462. Their bats didn't help the Eagles get off to their usual hot start to the season during the Newport Elks Tournament. For the first time in five seasons, the Eagles lost more games than they won at the tournament.
If there's one team to get the Eagles back on track, it is Costa Mesa. In the previous two seasons, Nate Goellrich's first two with Estancia, the Eagles have outscored the Mustangs, 76-9, in six games.