The Rancho Santiago and Orange Coast College baseball teams will meet today for the fifth and most important time this season.
The winner of today’s 1 p.m. game at Rancho Santiago advances to the third round of the Southern California Regionals. The season ends for the loser. The Orange Empire Conference members have split four regular-season meetings.
Rancho Santiago (28-15) will start sophomore left-hander Willie Navarrette (10-4), who will make his first start against OCC this season. Jack Bailey started the first four games against OCC.
OCC (31-10-1) will counter with sophomore right-hander John Douris (7-3), who won his only start against Rancho Santiago this season.
Once the game gets to the late innings, OCC will most likely turn to left-handed reliever Eddie Pierce, who also starts in right field. He is 4-0 with five saves and hasn’t allowed a run in 13 of his 15 appearances. He has a 1.91 earned-run average.
OCC defeated Los Angeles Valley, 8-6, and Rancho Santiago defeated East Los Angeles, 15-3, in the first round Thursday.
In the other second-round game at 1 p.m., Cerritos plays host to San Diego Mesa. The winners of today’s game will advance to the double-elimination third round.
The OCC/Rancho Santiago winner will play Cypress at 11 a.m. May 19. Palomar and Los Angeles Harbor play at 2:30 p.m. Both games will be at Rancho Santiago.
The Cerritos/Mesa winner advances to play Long Beach at 11 a.m. May 19. Ventura plays Mt. San Jacinto at 2:30 p.m. Both games will be at Cerritos College.
The winner of each of the regional sites advances to the state tournament May 26-28 in Sacramento.