Five Long Beach high school baseball teams are starting the CIF Southern Section playoffs this week, and two of them are already preparing for wild card games on Tuesday.
Long Beach Poly (19-8-1, 10-2) won its first Moore League title since 2012, and just their second since 1986. The Jackrabbits finished the regular season unranked in Division 3, but will host the wild card winner between Segerstrom and Palos Verdes in the first round on Friday.
Last year, Poly had a surprising run in the Division 3 playoffs after going 6-6 in league. Third year coach Brett Lavoie said he thinks his team has played better this season because of that experience and confidence. He used catcher Daniel Mariscal as a an example of that improvement. The senior has a team-high .386 batting average.
“He’s been a different player since he hit that home run in the first playoff win last year,” Lavoie said.
Senior shortstop Chris Murphy led Poly with 26 RBIs, and sophomore Troy Criss scored a team-high 19 runs.
Lakewood (18-11, 9-3) closed the season strong and won six of its last eight games to finish second in league. The Lancers will visit Quartz Hill (21-8, 12-2) in the Division 2 opener where the Rebels are 11-1 on their home field.
Coach Spud O’Neil said he felt a change in his team between the blowout loss to Millikan in March and the big win over Wilson a week later.
“Our practices were awful, we had no team unity,” O’Neil said. “We didn’t know how to play as a team— everything has changed.”
Senior Devon Semper led Lakewood with 28 hits, senior Kevin Kolb had a team-high 20 RBIs and junior Blair McDaniel scored a team-high 20 runs.
Wilson (17-11-2, 9-3) went from a chance to grab a share of the league title to preparing for a wild card game in the last two weeks of the regular season after finishing the first round of league play in fourth place.
The Bruins needed to beat Millikan to stay alive for the league title, but lost 8-7. They also lost the coin flip for second place with Lakewood, and visit Redondo Union on Wednesday.
Senior Jaylin Cannon led Wilson with 27 hits, senior Crixtian Taveras drove in a team-high 21 RBIs and senior Alex Seguine scored 25 runs.
Millikan (17-11, 8-4) struggled to keep a full-strength squad on the field this season, and finished in a disappointing fourth place in league. The Rams play its wild card game on Wednesday at Temecula Valley.
Freshman first baseman Ryan Geck led the Rams with a .422 batting average, junior shortstop C.J. Yogi had a team high 28 hits and 20 runs, and sophomore Daniel Murillo drove in a team-high 18 runs.
St. Anthony (12-12, 3-9) will visit Desert Mountain League champion Desert Christian (11-7) for the Division 6 opener at 7 p.m. on Friday. Junior Jaxon Kraemer had a team-high 29 hits and 19 runs. Sophomore Nicolas Salcido drove in a team-high 20 RBIs.