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CIF baseball: Pocket aces

Three SCV underdogs will turn to their top pitchers in the quarterfinals today

Posted: May 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 25, 2012 1:55 a.m.

SCCS' Ryan Fullarton

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Three teams. Three aces. Three home games. Three underdogs.

Welcome to the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section baseball playoffs.

West Ranch, Saugus and Santa Clarita Christian all play quarterfinal games today marking the first time in Santa Clarita Valley history that three baseball teams have reached division quarterfinals in the same season.

All go in with the same attitude as Saugus head coach John Maggiora’s.

“Why not us?” he said.

West Ranch hosts the No. 1 team in the nation (according to Maxpreps.com), Orange Lutheran, at 3:15 p.m. with ace J.C. Cloney on the mound in the Division I third round.

Cloney is 8-1 this year with a 1.57 ERA.

Because he gets the call, West Ranch has confidence that it can beat the Lancers (23-4).

But the Wildcats (19-8-1) also go into the game undaunted because of the way they are swinging the bats.

“I think the offense matches well with their pitchers,” said West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill. “They’re strike throwers. We have contact guys, guys who don’t strike out looking. We put the ball in play. I think our guys refuse to strike out.”

West Ranch has 25 hits and 13 runs in two postseason games and has been led by the unlikeliest of heroes.

No. 9 hitter J.D. Krauskopf is 5-for-6 with a home run and five RBIs in the two games.

Burrill said he expects to see Art Moran-Vidrio on the mound. The UC Santa Barbara-commit is 8-1 with a 0.47 ERA this season.

The coach said he has had some people scout the Lancers and the thing that stands out the most about them is their ability to go through a game without making mistakes — sound defense, no walks, smart play.

Saugus enters its first quarterfinal since 1991 by hosting Newbury Park at 3:15 p.m. in Division I.

The Centurions (18-10-1) will get 9-0 Luke Eubank, a pitcher who has three no-hitters this season.

By all accounts, Eubank works fast and pounds the strike zone so Saugus’ goal will be to get him out of his comfort zone.

The Centurions’ bats came alive in their 7-4 upset win at J.W. North on Tuesday with a six-run fifth inning.

Saugus will go with its own ace, Justin Donatella, who is 9-2 with a 2.04 ERA.

Newbury Park (18-7) doesn’t do a lot of scoring, averaging slightly over four runs per game.

That’s not the case for Santa Clarita Christian’s opponent, Dunn, in the Division VII third round.

SCCS hosts the Earwigs at 3:15 p.m. today at The Master’s College.

Dunn of Los Olivos (13-4) has outscored its playoff opponents 53-9 in two postseason games.

The hope is that SCCS ace Ryan Fullarton (6-3, 1.79 ERA) can pitch like he has all season.

“I know Fullarton will throw strikes. He doesn’t walk guys. The key is how well he can keep them off balance and how well we play defense,” said SCCS head coach Garrick Moss. “We don’t want to play from behind.”

SCCS (16-6) last went to a semifinal in 2004 — the season it won the Division VI title.

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