The postseason struggles for Moore League baseball have not been exaggerated. Millikan, Lakewood, Wilson and Long Beach Poly have gone a combined 6-24 in CIF Southern Section playoff games over the last six seasons, and now none of them are left in Division 1. All games are at 3 p.m. unless noted.
In Division 2, Moore League champion Millikan (20-10) is hosting Murrieta Valley on Thursday (6 p.m.) at Bohl Diamond at Blair Field. Millikan coach Ron Keester said that the fact his team is young and unfamiliar with recent playoff shortcomings could be a positive factor.
“Maybe naive is good for them,” Keester said. “But we have to keep scoring early runs. The top of the lineup has been able to do that for us, and it really settles us down.”
Millikan scored first in five of the six league games against postseason teams, and has pieced together a quality pitching staff with junior Julian Aguiar, senior Kelly Hawkshaw and senior Trevor Sutt leading the way. The Rams have allowed only 17 runs in 12 league games. Aguiar picked up the win in the league clinching victory, and Hawkshaw came on in relief. Keester said Hawkshaw has had his two best performances as a starter and reliever in his last two appearances.
Murrieta Valley (20-8) finished second in the Southwestern League while averaging 4.4 runs per game. The Nighthawks finished the regular season on a four-game winning streak. Senior Kallen Mueller leads Murrieta Valley with a .343 batting average, and six different players have double digit RBIs. Junior left-handed pitcher Chris Gilmartin is the Nighthawks ace.
Millikan would likely face No. 4 seeded Camarillo in the second round.
Also in Division 2, Lakewood (12-18) is visiting Pacific League champions Crescenta Valley. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Stengal Field.
Lakewood lost four of its last six games, and has given up 17 runs in the last four games. Senior Carter White leads the Lancers with 42 hits in 30 games and a .408 batting average. Junior Devon Semper has a team-high 20 RBIs, and sophomore David Baruch has scored a team-high 22 runs.
Crescenta Valley (23-4) finished the season on a 16-game winning streak as the No. 3 ranked team in Division 2.
In Division 3, second-place Wilson (18-11-1) is on the road Friday against Orange League champion Katella. The Bruins have won five of their last six games thanks in large part to a 2.25 team ERA. Senior center fielder Ryan Guerero leads Wilson with 32 hits and 26 RBIs.
Katella (17-9) didn’t lose a league contest while only giving up 15 runs in 15 games. The Knights hit .329 as a team, and have stolen 52 bases. Senior Rafael Flores has 32 hits, 27 runs scored and 22 RBIs in 26 games.
Long Beach Poly (14-16) finished fourth in league, and travels to face Sage Hill in the Division 3 wild card round on Wednesday.
St. Anthony (13-9-2) finished second in the Santa Fe League, and will open the Division 6 playoffs at Bishop Diego on Thursday. The Saints lost their last two games after winning seven straight. Junior Andrew Donini and sophomore Jaxon Kraemer are both hitting over .500 with 34 hits. Kraemer has a team-high 31 RBIs, and Donini has a team-high 28 runs.
Bishop Diego (16-6) went 10-0 in the Frontier League while giving up only five runs. The Cardinals pitching staff has a 1.22 team ERA with 130 strikeouts in 115 innings.
St. Anthony reached the CIF championship game three years ago.