NCS baseball: Casa Grande captures top seed in Division 2 tournament

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A strong group of Empire baseball teams led by Casa Grande are aiming for the Empire’s first large school baseball title since the North Coast Section was unified four seasons back.

Losing only twice on the season, Casa Grande gained the top seed in NCS Division 2. Both the Gauchos losses came at home, so Casa Grande will be ready when Pinole Valley comes in Tuesday.

“The bottom line is you can’t take anything for granted,” said Casa Grande coach Paul Maytorena. “The seeding is nice. It’s all a matter of hitting, defense, and pitching well.”

St. Vincent, Tomales and Point Arena lead the small schools contingent from the Empire with first round contests set for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“This is fun. It’s what the season is all about,” said St. Vincent coach Gary Galloway.

Casa Grande leads five teams making the sections from the North Bay League, reflecting the strength of the newly formatted league. Runner up Maria Carrillo is seeded fourth in sections. Cardinal Newman, Rancho Cotate and Montgomery go on the road for first round contests.

Analy, champion of the Sonoma County League, gets a third seed in NCS Division 3 and at least two home games. Sonoma Valley gained the fourth seed in the same division.

The new season begins Tuesday and Wednesday. Scheduling ace pitchers and making the most of outs in close games often is the difference in teams making a playoff run.

“We take care of the ball and hit the ball. So we find a way,” Maytorena said.

Leading the small schools is Point Arena, the one program to win a section title since the Empire and East Bay were unified in 2009. Point Arena won NCS Division 6 last year and is seeded second — behind Tomales — this season.

St. Vincent is fourth in NCS Division 5. Coming off an NCL II title, the Mustangs know winning the school’s sixth section championship will demand wins against the East Bay’s best.

“Those are quality teams. But we have the experience you need,” Galloway said.

Deep on the bench and in pitching, St. Vincent has a handful of wins against section playoff teams. But top seed Valley Christian and number two Head Royce are favored.

“When we are playing our best, we can play with any of those teams,” Galloway said.

You can reach Staff Writer Michael Coit at 521-5470 or mike.coit@pressdemocrat.com.

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