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Orange Lutheran, JSerra snag top two seeds in CIF-SS Division 1 baseball playoffs

Orange County teams received the top four seeds in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 baseball playoff bracket.

Trinity League champion Orange Lutheran (24-4) was seeded No. 1 in the CIF-SS playoff pairings that were released Monday. Trinity League runner-up JSerra (18-10) is seeded second, Empire League champion Cypress (21-5-2) is seeded third and Surf League champion Huntington Beach (20-8) is seeded fourth.

Cypress, Huntington Beach and Orange Lutheran, along with Foothill, were handed first-round byes in Division 1.

It’s the first first-round bye for Cypress coach John Weber in his 16 seasons coaching the Centurions.

“I asked (JSerra coach) Brett Kay if he liked having the first-round bye last year,” Weber said. “He said he did.”

Last season, JSerra advanced to the Division 1 championship game in which the Lions lost to Harvard-Westlake.

Four first-round byes are an usually large number for Division 1 baseball. The reason for so many byes is that only 25 of the 34 teams that are in the Division 1 category finished high enough in their league’s final standings to be automatic qualifiers for the 32-team playoff bracket.

Three of the division’s non-automatic qualifiers had the .500-or-better record needed to be at-large teams, so El Dorado, Santa Margarita and Thousand Oaks filled three slots as at-large teams to make it 28 teams, leaving the division four teams short of 32 teams, thus the four first-round byes.

It seemed an oddity that second-seeded JSerra did not get a first-round bye, but Kay accepted the reasoning … sort of.

“We’re not a league champion, so I agree with that part of it,” Kay said. “By that token, we shouldn’t be the No. 2 seed. But a No. 2 seed should get a bye.”

Foothill beat Villa Park twice last week to win the Crestview League championship. Villa Park went into the week as the No. 1 team in the Division 1 top 10 after winning the championship of the prestigious Boras Classic South tournament. The two Foothill wins knocked Villa Park out of the No. 1 position, gave Foothill the Division 1 first-round bye and dropped Villa Park to No. 6 in the Division 1 top 10. The Spartans have a first-round home game against Ayala on Friday.

Orange Lutheran coach Eric Borba, when asked if he thought the first-round bye could be good or bad for his team, answered “ask me next week.”

It will be 12 days between the Lancers’ final regular-season game and their second-round home game May 10 against the winner of Damien-Bonita.

“If you get to be one of the top 16 teams in the division without having to play,” Borbas said, “that could make the road a lot easier.”

Divisions that had more than 32 automatic qualifiers have wild-card round games to get their fields down to 32 teams for the first round. Wild card games are in Divisions 4, 5 and 7.

The other Orange County team seeded No. 1 in its division is Los Amigos. The Lobos (22-4), Garden Grove League champions, have a first-round home game Friday against the winner of the Leuzinger-Newbury Park Adventist wild-card game.

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