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Bishop Amat Favored in Division I Baseball

TIMES STAFF WRITER

La Puente Bishop Amat advanced to the Southern Section Division I baseball championship game in 1995, won the title in 1996 and advanced to the semifinals last season.

With that kind of experience--and talent--it’s no surprise that the Lancers are the top-seeded team in the Division I playoffs.

There are 176 teams competing for championships in six divisions.

First-round games are Friday. The Division V and VI championship games will be played June 5 at Blair Field in Long Beach. Title games for Divisions I-IV will be June 6 at Dodger Stadium.

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City baseball pairings will be announced today.

Here is a division-by-division look at the Southern Section playoffs:

DIVISION I

Bishop Amat finished the regular season with a 22-4 record and looks like a team capable of winning its second title in three years.

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Last year, the Lancers lost to eventual-champion Esperanza in the semifinals. Many of the key players from that team have had outstanding seasons.

Junior shortstop Dennis Wyrick is batting .463 with seven doubles, senior pitcher Paul Mangini is 10-1 with a 1.42 earned-run average and senior first baseman Daniel Haren is batting .468 with 30 runs batted in for the Lancers, who play host to Redlands (15-12).

“If experience translates to success, we have all kinds of that,” Bishop Amat Coach Glenn Martinez said. “But winning a championship comes down to having a talented team that gets the right kind of breaks. A lot of it comes down to luck.”

Santa Ana Mater Dei (21-4), led by catcher Brett Kay, is seeded second. Third baseman Sean Burroughs, a projected first- or second-round draft pick, leads No. 3-seeded Long Beach Wilson (18-4-1). Encino Crespi (21-5-1) is the No. 4-seeded team.

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DIVISION II

West Torrance reached a division final in 1976 and 1994, but the Warriors are still searching for their first championship. This could be the year.

West Torrance is 23-3-1 and is the top-seeded team. The Warriors are led by senior third baseman Greg Sain, who is batting .537 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs for a team that won the El Segundo and High Sierra tournaments and the Bay League title.

West Torrance also features senior pitcher James Garcia, who is 7-1 with a 2.40 ERA and is also batting .509. Freshman Nelson Carballo is also 7-1 with a 2.58 ERA and is batting .350 with seven homers.

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“This team is pretty loaded physically,” West Torrance Coach Harry Jenkins said. “It has some excellent hitting and good pitching. Hopefully, we can get on a hot streak through the playoffs because the division this year really has some talented teams.”

Newhall Hart (24-3) is the No. 2-seeded team, Santa Maria Righetti (21-2) is third and Anaheim Canyon (21-5), which won the Division III title last year, is the fourth-seeded team.

DIVISION III

Desert Valley League champion Palm Desert (22-4) is the top-seeded team in a division that also includes No. 2 Santa Margarita (20-6), No. 3 West Covina South Hills (20-4) and fourth-seeded South Torrance (18-10).

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Palm Desert is seeking its first title and has seven key players back from last year’s team that was eliminated by Anaheim Canyon in the quarterfinals.

Senior outfielder Adam Seuss is batting .440 with 10 homers and 30 RBIs. Junior left-hander Scott Burrage is 10-0 with a 1.60 ERA.

DIVISION IV

Senior catcher Gerald Laird, a top pro prospect, is batting .649 and is the marquee player for No. 1-seeded La Quinta Westminster (26-1), the Times’ top-ranked team.

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Ocean League champion El Segundo (23-4) is the No. 2-seeded team. The Eagles, under legendary Coach John Stevenson, are led by junior outfielder Alberto Concepcion, who has 67 RBIs. Concepcion tied the state record set by Brian Johnson of Oakland Skyline in 1985.

Santa Maria St. Joseph (18-3), is the No. 3 seed. Former major league pitcher Bryn Smith is in his first season as coach of the Knights, who won the Division V title last year.

DIVISION V

With Santa Maria St. Joseph moving up a division, Pasadena Poly (18-3) is the top-seeded team.

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The Panthers will be challenged by No. 2 San Pedro Mary Star (17-6), No. 3 Kern Valley (18-3) and fourth-seeded Los Angeles Baptist (16-5).

DIVISION VI

Colton Christian Center Academy (16-8) is the defending champion, but the Warriors are the third-seeded team behind No. 1 Bloomington Christian (15-2) and No. 2 Simi Valley Grace Brethren (17-2). La Verne Lutheran (15-2) is the fourth-seeded team.


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