The prep baseball season is just around the corner, and everyone will be looking to see whether No. 1 La Mirada and No. 2 Orange Lutheran play in a state championship game on June 3 at San Manuel Stadium in San Bernardino.
The championship game already has been moved back a day because of delays from the weekend's fires. They will now play on Friday, June 1.
Both teams are returning champions and experienced at getting deeper into the playoffs. La Mirada won the CIF-SS Division 2 title in 2017 and advanced to the semifinals last season before losing to Orange Lutheran, which reached the Division 1 final against Loyola.
La Mirada last won the Division 1 championship in 2015, beating Foothill in the final at UC Irvine.
The Matadores have three potential future big league players in Rene Gonzalez, Roman Tellez and Estevan Valencia. They also have a few in the infield. They return four pitchers with experience, including Edwin Romero. Coach Kim Brooks said the biggest challenge is finding balance between coming through with consistent hitting and a dominating pitching performance to win the CIF-SS championship.
"The thing about these two teams is that they are going to be sluggers and take a lot of walks," Brooks said. "We're not a slugger team, but we do have a few guys who are going to pound the ball."
Orange Lutheran, which beat CIF-SS Division 3 champion Northwood, has one of the top arms in the Southern Section in Max Conaway. The Lancers are fielding one of the better infields in the area and will get some production from J.D. Davis, a junior first baseman who signed with Cal State Fullerton. They lost left-hander Alex Patten to injury, but coaches say he's working hard to return.
Orange Lutheran Coach Chuck Morales said he expects an impact in league play this season from center fielder Jake Franco, a sophomore who was drafted in the eighth round by Arizona State last June. He was a Riverside City College transfer. He'll play shortstop this season. Nick Madrigal, a junior shortstop, hit a grand slam in the St. Edward playoff victory over Orange Lutheran in the St. Edward Regional last season.
Times and TV info for opening games
8 a.m.: Santa Margarita vs. Santa Fe at Bill Barber Park
6 p.m.: Crespi vs. Los Alamitos at Dodger Stadium