The title chases in the Sunset and Golden West League baseball races are entering their final weeks and despite a clear-cut leader emerging in each race, championships in both circles are still up for grabs.
Five games over the next two weeks, will determine both outcomes.
Fountain Valley continues to pace the Sunset race. The Barons entered the week 9-0 and held a three-game lead on their nearest competitor, Marina, for the title. Ocean View was four games behind Loara in the Golden West race but still very much in the hunt for a playoff berth.
Marina stayed within striking distance of Fountain Valley by taking two recent games from Huntington Beach. The Vikings defeated the Oilers, 7-2, on April 17, and then scored a 6-2 home-field victory Friday.
In Friday's win, Marina scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning to take a 6-0 lead and control of the game. Senior left-handed pitcher Jackson Westermeyer threw six innings and allowed only two hits. Sophomore Steven Gingery, another lefty, pitched the seventh to close out the win.
Westermeyer, who has an earned-run average of 1.24, improved to 5-1, the Vikings to 13-7 overall and 6-3 in league.
Sophomore Austin Moore and senior Jake Bauers both had two RBIs, and senior Max Willingham drove in a run in what Vikings Coach Bob Marshall said was a "great team win."
"Any time you play against a well-coached team like [Benji] Medure puts on the field, it is going to be a battle," Marshall said of the Oilers' head coach. "Coach Medure is a quality coach with a very young talented team. Year in and year out, Coach Medure gets his players to compete and that is all, as coaches, we can ask of our players, is to compete. Fortunately, our players had some key hits in the victory and again pitching was dominant."
In Marina's 7-2 win on April 17, Austin Olivas pitched six, strong innings and earned the victory. Gingery replaced Olivas and pitched the seventh. Olivas improved to 4-2 and has an ERA of 1.75.
Seven different Vikings had hits in the game including a double by Austin Moore in the seventh that led to a four-run innings for the Vikings. Justin Neese hit a bloop single to shallow right field that also drove in a run.
"Our effort and attitude on the field has been the best it has all season," Marshall said. "The team is playing with confidence and determination. Our pitching and defense have been stellar all year and now our hitting is starting to take shape. Our hitters have been working hard on staying on the ball and hitting it hard the other way.
"We have a very heavy senior team and this is their ride. We are this deep into the season and these seniors control their destiny and they are figuring out it is much easier to play as a team than individuals. [I'm] very proud of these young men."
In Friday's loss to Marina, Logan Pouelsen and Jake Brodt had RBI doubles for Huntington, which dipped to 2-7 in league and 9-11 overall. Jesse Kuet had two hits and drove in two runs in the April 17 meeting.
"It has been a rough couple of weeks," Medure said. "We are in a rut right now and we need to find a way to battle out of it. Tough times don't last, tough people do. Hopefully we are tough and we can extend this season."
Huntington played Newport Harbor Wednesday. The score wasn't available at press time. The Oilers travel for a 3:15 p.m. game Friday against the Sailors.
Marina played host to Edison and Huntington played host to Newport Harbor on Wednesday. The scores from both games weren't available at press time. At 3:15 p.m. Friday, Marina plays at Edison and Huntington goes to Newport Harbor.
Marina's opponent this week, Edison, dropped consecutive games last week to Los Alamitos. The Chargers (4-5 league, 10-10 overall) lost, 10-2, on April 17, and, 4-2, on Friday.
Fountain Valley: The Barons went to 9-0 in Sunset League play and completed a three-game league sweep of Newport Harbor by defeating the Sailors, 8-5, on April 17. Brock Lundquist went three for four with a home run and drove in three runs. John Shattles homered, Dillon Persinger went two for four and scored three runs, and Hunter Margain got the pitching win and improved to 5-0.
Fountain Valley, ranked second in CIF Southern Section Division 2, improved to 20-1 overall.
"We had to beat a tough pitcher in [Shaun] Vetrovec," Fountain Valley Coach Deric Yanagisawa said of his team's win against the Newport Harbor ace. "He is one of the better arms in the league. Newport has two of the better young arms in our league in Vetrovec and [Connor] Seabold. We were fortunate to get a couple of calls [go] our way and we had some timely hits. We are fortunate to have swept them this year."
Shattles hit his home run in the top of the seventh to give back some momentum to the Barons who took an 8-5 lead.
Fountain Valley played at Los Alamitos Wednesday. The score wasn't available at press time. The Barons play host to the Griffins at 3:15 p.m. Friday.
Fountain Valley is on the road to face Edison May 1 at 3:15 p.m.
Ocean View: The Seahawks slipped into a three-way tie for third-place in the Golden West League standings after dropping a 10-1 home game Friday to Segerstrom.
Ocean View hit the ball well against Segerstrom's Matt Martinez but could only muster a single run. The Seahawks got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Luke Fell opened with a double off the wall in left field, and later scored on a single to center field by Steven Cotton.
Ramon Sepulveda had two hits for the Seahawks (6-13, 4-5 in league), who gave up five runs in the top of the fourth, and couldn't recover.
"We have had a hard time stopping rallies this year," Ocean View Coach Shane Borowski said. "We've been unable to execute the little things to end these rallies. We're better than we're playing, but the scores don't indicate that.
"I told the guys that there is still a lot to play for. Everything, really. It's a tight [league] race that is going to come down to series wins. Right now, we need our seniors to convey to the rest of the team that there is still life left in us."
Ocean View took on Westminster Wednesday but the score wasn't available at press time. The Seahawks and Lions meet again at 3:15 p.m. Friday at Ocean View.
Next week, Ocean View plays host to Orange at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday.
CIF Weekly Rankings (week of April 22)
Baseball: Fountain Valley (No. 2, Division 1)