Having survived the rigors of the regular season, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Edison and Ocean View can now turn their sights to the CIF Southern Section baseball playoffs.
The postseason gets underway for all four local teams with first-round action at 3:15 p.m. Friday. The Oilers, Barons and Chargers will chase after the Division 1 championship, while the Seahawks are after the Division 3 crown.
"We feel we're well prepared," Fountain Valley Coach Deric Yanagisawa said. "It's going to come down to throwing strikes, playing defense and clutching up with runners in scoring position.
"In the playoffs, you have to take advantage of scoring chances and capitalizing on them. You won't have many opportunities against the quality of pitching. If you miss out on those opportunities, you're probably going home."
Fountain Valley drew the No. 3 overall seed for the Division 1 playoffs. The Barons won a second-straight Sunset League championship when they clinched a tie for the title May 15 by winning, 9-2 at Edison.
The Barons share the championship with fifth-ranked Huntington which got its portion of the title by taking an 8-6 win at Los Alamitos May 15.
Ocean View was a 5-4 winner at home May 15 over Orange to sew up third-place in the Golden West League.
Fountain Valley (19-7) will host the winner of a Wednesday wild-card game between Newbury Park (Marmonte League No. 4) and Lakewood (Moore League No. 4). The Barons faced Lakewood earlier in the season at the Loara Tournament where they lost to the Lancers, 4-1, in extra innings May 11.
"There's no easy matchup or draw at this point of the season," Yanagisawa said. "Every team deserves to be here and now we all have a common goal. You need to play well and catch a few breaks along the way. Your best players have to step up and some of the role players have to play a big part in your success.
"There's so many good teams out there and no one can take anyone lightly. You have to play every game like's it's a championship game."
Yanagisawa said that senior Scott Schultz (13-0, three saves, 0.78 ERA), who is having one of top pitching seasons for the Barons, will start Friday.
Huntington Beach also drew a home first-round assignment, and will host the No. 2 team from the Big VIII League, Corona Santiago. The fifth-ranked Oilers, who bring a 21-4 record into the game, are on a six-game win streak.
Several players have stepped up during the late-season run that ended with the Oilers moving into a tie for the title with Fountain Valley. Junior Cooper Moore, whom Coach Benji Medure said is his team's "most clutch hitter of late," had a score-tying RBI and game-winning RBI in two of the Oilers' final four games. Another junior, Daniel Amaral, has been another clutch performer down the stretch of the regular season.
"I feel like we are confident going into the playoffs, but our best baseball is yet to come," Medure said. "We haven't put together a complete, mistake-free game. That is what we are shooting for.
"This team is capable of being very good. I am hoping that it happens when it really matters."
Medure said that junior Noah Davis (10-1, 1.29 ERA, 57.1 innings) will draw Friday's starting assignment against Santiago.
"We don't know much about them, but I know their coach (Ty De Trinidad) runs a very good program, so we are up against it," Medure said of the Sharks. "He gets the most out of his players and they play tough. They don't care who we are. They will come after us. We need to be ready for a fight."
Edison is the Sunset League's third-place representative in the Division 1 playoffs. The Chargers (18-9) hosted Tesoro (South Coast League at-large) in a wild-card game Wednesday . The score wasn't available at press time. The winner advances to play at Moore League champion Long Beach Millikan Friday.
Ocean View also played a wild-card game Wednesday. The Seahawks (17-9) took on Garden Grove Santiago (Garden Grove League No. 3) in Division 3 play, the winner moving on to a Friday road game at Sunbelt League champ Paloma Valley.
"I like where we are as a team," Ocean View Coach Shane Borowski said. "There is great chemistry, the kids pull for each other, and we are getting good effort. Our pitching has carried us all year, we finished the year with a staff ERA of 1.71. In 22 years, I've never had a staff with those kinds of numbers, and I'm excited to see where it takes us in the playoffs.
"Although I felt we were worthy of a first-round game and not a wild card, I still like our seeding and am excited to get going on a run."
Second-round playoff games will be played at 3:15 p.m. next Tuesday.
•In Sunset League finales May 15, Fountain Valley defeated Edison (9-2), Huntington beat Los Alamitos (8-6) and Marina dropped a 4-1 game to Newport Harbor.
In Fountain Valley's win at Edison, Daniel Patzlaff's bases-clearing double in the fourth highlighted a six-run inning for the Barons and triggered an eventual, 9-2 victory that clinched a Sunset League co-championship for the defending league champions. It was the fourth double for Patzlaff in three days against Edison.
The Barons had trailed, 1-0, through three innings but scored six in the fourth and put up three more runs in the fifth, and cruised the rest of the way. Scott Schultz, who threw the first five innings, gave up three hits and struck out seven for the win.
Edison's Brian Schales homered off the scoreboard in center field in the opening inning to give Edison the early lead.
Clint Jack (double) and Jesse Kuet both had two hits for Huntington which built a 7-0 lead on Los Alamitos through 4 1/2 innings, and then held off the Griffins. Davis allowed only two hits in five innings and got the win while Logan Pouelsen, the last of two relief pitchers for the Oilers, thew the seventh and recorded the save.
Griffin Hennessey and Connor McCollum had the only two hits for Marina against Newport Harbor senior ace Shaun Vetrovec in a 4-1 loss to the visiting Sailors. The Vikings, who last June reached the Division 1 championship game at Dodger Stadium, finished the year 7-19.
Ocean View scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take the lead for good against Orange and went on to claim a 5-4 victory on the final day of the Golden West League season. Ben Myers doubled and drove in three runs, Grant Rockefeller singled with an RBI, James Wilson drove in a run, and senior Ramon Sepulveda (2-1) went the distance and got the win.