For the first time in the same season, each of the five high school baseball programs in the Newport-Mesa area qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
It's a milestone considering two of the teams, Newport Harbor and Estancia, last appeared in the postseason in 1990 and 1994, respectively.
Estancia and Newport Harbor are back, joining Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa and Sage Hill, three teams that reached the playoffs last season. The playoff draw, announced Monday, has the Sailors, Sea Kings and Mustangs playing today, while the Eagles and Lightning have some time off before they open the playoffs.
Newport Harbor, CdM and Costa Mesa are in wild-card games in their respective divisions today at 3:15 p.m.
The Sailors (16-10) are in Division I and play host to Roosevelt from Corona (12-12-1).
The Sea Kings (11-16) travel to San Bernardino to play Cajon (17-8) in Division III.
The Mustangs (14-13) are at home against La Cañada (14-9) in Division IV.
The Eagles and Lightning are each at home in first-round games set for Friday at 3:15 p.m.
Estancia (17-10) is in Division IV and plays Colony (16-9), which is from Ontario.
Sage Hill (17-5) plays the winner of today's Division VI wild-card game between Calvary Chapel of Moreno Valley and Victor Valley Christian of Victorville.
While the postseason is unfamiliar territory for Newport Harbor, its first-year coach, Patrick Murphy, is used to coaching during this time of the year.
Murphy has only missed the playoffs three times in his 14 seasons as a head coach or assistant. Under Murphy, the Sailors improved seven games in the win column from last season and they moved up one spot in the ultra-competitive Sunset League, taking third place.
Senior Blake Davey leads the Sailors with a .414 batting average and sophomore Matt Carpenter has a team-best eight home runs and 29 runs batted in.
Newport Harbor faces Roosevelt, an at-large entry from the Big VIII League. Roosevelt enters the playoffs having lost three of four games, a span in which it has only scored six runs.
Newport Harbor was in a rut down the stretch until it broke out of it in the regular-season finale last week. The Sailors earned their first playoff berth in 20 years with a 6-1 Sunset League upset of Edison, ranked No. 4 in the final Division I coaches' poll.
CdM clinched its postseason berth last week as well.
The Sea Kings beat Laguna Hills, 4-1, in a Pacific Coast League playoff game determining the league's No. 3 entry. CdM has its top two starters, Eric Morris (6-3, 2.74 earned-run average) and Andrew McCormack (3-6, 2.95 ERA), available today against Cajon.
The ace for the third-place team from the San Andreas League is Tanner Clark. The right-hander is 8-1 with a 1.76 ERA and has 51 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings.
Last season, the Sea Kings reached the semifinals.
"It's always great to be in the playoffs," said CdM Coach John Emme, who is making his 12th playoff appearance in 13 seasons. "It's a whole different atmosphere.
"We've had some pretty good success making runs in the playoffs and we're going to hopefully do that again."
Costa Mesa returns to the playoffs for the fourth straight year under Coach Jim Kiefer.
The Mustangs have to forget about their loss in the regular-season finale to Laguna Beach, which cost them a share of their second straight Orange Coast League title. Costa Mesa, the league runner-up, has a strong chance to get past its opening-round game, which it has been unable to do the past three seasons.
La Cañada, an at-large entry from the Rio Hondo League, has dropped five of six games. La Cañada allowed 18 runs its regular-season finale.
Costa Mesa has the big bats in seniors Ryan Boulger and Jesse Fox to blow open a game. The two have combined for 13 homers and 64 RBIs.
The Mustangs can score runs in bunches, having hit double digits 10 times this season.
Estancia doesn't solely rely on its offense.
Pitching keyed the Eagles' first postseason appearance in 16 years and their Orange Coast League championship, the program's first since the early 1990s. Marc DeFrenza and Ryan Boselo give Estancia a robust one-two punch.
Expect to see both right-handers against Colony, the runner-up from the Mt. Baldy League. DeFrenza will most likely start and Boselo will close.
The duo has played a vital role in the Eagles shutting out the opposition in the last three games.
"He's a complete pitcher," Estancia Coach Matt Sorensen said of DeFrenza, who is 9-3 with a 2.02 ERA and has 82 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. "He holds runners on. He hits his spot. He throws his fastball inside."
Boselo (3-1, 2.29 ERA) throws with more velocity than DeFrenza. Sorensen said the senior hits 88-89 mph on the gun.
The Eagles have won six of their previous seven games, but they aren't the area's hottest team heading into the playoffs.
Sage Hill has reeled off seven straight victories. During that stretch, the Academy League runner-up has outscored opponents, 79-9.
Coach Andy Berglund has the type of explosive offense that can propel the Lightning far into the playoffs. Sage Hill has only reached the second round.
Berglund has taken Sage Hill to the second round in each of the last two years.