The North Coast Section baseball and softball playoffs begin today and, I gotta say, it’s my favorite time of the prep year. Nothing quite like some high stakes baseball to get the juices flowing. For now, I’ll focus on baseball and what I’m seeing are a few really good matchups both today and tomorrow that you might want to go check out:
No. 13 Amador Valley at No. 4 Deer Valley: This could be a wild one. It may depend on who the Dons decide to toss out there between Bryce Miller and Rob LeClair. For Deer Valley, Dylan Rath will most likely take the hill and this could be a game that either spirals into a big-time offensive slugfest or evolves into a pitchers’ duel. The unpredictability of this matchup is what makes it so intriguing.
No. 8 Bishop O’Dowd at No. 9 California: The Dragons made it to the 3A championship last year and this first round matchup does them absolutely no favors. What they do have going for them is the fact that California’s rather snug home field is very familiar since their home field is much the same way. While a matchup of O’Dowd’s Graham Rodriguez and Cal’s Josh Slaats is what most people would predict, I would not be surprised to see Ben Zemmelman and Tyler Costa starting either. This is a tossup.
No. 12 Monte Vista at No. 12 Livermore: Why does the NCS insist on matching league opponents up again? In the 3A bracket there are three league matchups and in 2A there are two. I understand why it happens in the smaller 2A field but if you’re the Cowboys, aren’t you kind of worried that you have to face MV again? Should make for entertaining baseball anyway.
No. 14 San Ramon Valley at No. 3 Pinole Valley: Yours truly picked the Spartans fifth in their own league to begin the year. Yep, got that one wrong. They’re riding high entering the playoffs but Alameda did prove the Spartans are human by beating them recently. SRV is emotionally charged right now and it would not shock me to see an upset here. That said, PV has a big home-field advantage and that might carry them through.
No. 10 Alhambra at No. 7 Miramonte: A classic DFAL game to start the playoffs. The Mats beat Alhambra just last week in Orinda so you know the Bulldogs are going to be fired up to get some revenge. If Matt Baesa has to come out of the game for Alhambra, the key (as it has been all year) will be who steps up to carry the torch on the mound.
No. 11 Berkeley at No. 6 Alameda: Two ACCAL rivals clash yet again. This one is very simple. Whoever plays better defense is going to win. Alameda struggled with their D early in the year but by the end of the season, it came around. Berkeley, on the other hand, turned in it’s worst defensive performance of the year last week against El Cerrito and backed into the playoffs. Neither team strikes out a ton, so whoever flashes the leather is going to win.
Well, the long and short of all this is that you should get out and see some ball. It’s everywhere this week. Seniors like Clayton Valley’s Sean Burns, nearly the entire De La Salle team, California’s Slaats and the like are worth seeing at least once more, not to mention St. Mary’s junior Matt Flemer. The season starts now.