Baseball: Tight games expected Friday in Division 1 quarterfinals
If Southern California has the best baseball in the nation, Friday's four Southern Section Division 1 quarterfinal playoff games should be intense battles, with several going extra innings to decide which two teams will reach the semifinals on Tuesday at Blair Field in Long Beach.
The matchups: Riverside Poly at Loyola; Agoura at Marina; Harvard-Westlake at Santa Margarita; El Toro at Los Alamitos.
A broadcast of the Agoura-Marina game will be streamed live online. Agoura will have to prove it can win without without starting its ace pitcher, Henry Baker, who has won the first two playoff games.
Loyola continues to defy expectations. The Cubs lost their coach at the end of the regular season to off-field issues, but the players continue to move full speed ahead. There should be lots of coaching applicants, since Loyola has two junior pitchers, Nathan Hadley (UCLA) and Quinn Brodey (Stanford), headed to Pac-12 schools. But the players are having so much fun, they don't want this season to end quite yet.
Harvard-Westlake, which has had trouble winning road playoff games, finally won one in Orange County on Tuesday, and now the Wolverines will send out ace Jack Flaherty to face a battle-tested Santa Margarita team.
Los Alamitos has junior ace Jacob Nix ready to go against El Toro and Yale-bound Chasen Ford.
The road to Dodger Stadium on May 31 is getting shorter.
-- Eric Sondheimer