Usual suspects out of PAL Bay return to CCS baseball playoffs 

The Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division will be well-represented in the Central Coast Section Division II baseball playoffs as El Camino, Burlingame and Hillsdale all make return visits when games begin today.

After moving up to the Bay this season, El Camino (15-10-1) won the league only to be seeded exactly the same as it was last year against Los Gatos, the same team which defeated the Colts in the first round of 2010.

“We left that field with a bad taste in our mouths,” El Camino coach Carlos Roman said. “We didn’t play our best game.”

El Camino is riding a five-game winning streak and, behind starting pitcher Justin Eclavea, is looking to make an impact in CCS.

“You get hot at the right time, the seeding doesn’t mean anything,” Roman said.

Eclavea (7-2) has not been overpowering, but has been extremely effective. He as a 2.98 ERA and a team-high four complete games.

“We’re going to be a better defensive team all the way around with Eclavea,” Roman said.

If the Colts can avenge their 2010 CCS loss against Los Gatos (20-9-2),
they could see a familiar foe in Burlingame.

“I learned a lot from Carlos [Roman],” Burlingame coach Shawn Scott, who used to play for Roman. “[It would be] bittersweet either way for both of us.”

The CCS Division II champs and No. 13-seeded Panthers (16-11) will face Los Altos (19-11) and enter with loads of confidence.

Burlingame stumbled at the beginning on league play, falling to 5-5, before taking control of its fate.

“We held our destiny in our own hands,” Scott said. “They took the bull by the horns.”

The Panthers have won five in a row and will look to starting pitcher Zach Grotz to keep their streak alive.
Grotz (7-1) has been stellar this season with a 1.16 ERA and 0.95 WHIP.

Vince Arobio and Merrick Belding have been steady all season and have anchored a defense that has only allowed 96 runs all season.

As the No. 16 seed in 2010, Hillsdale raced to the CCS Division III finals before falling to Menlo.

So, the 14th-seeded Knights (17-9) are not new to the “underdog” status this season.

“[I] just reminded them that all the players had been there before,” Hillsdale coach Neal Donohoe said of his team which returns seven starters from the 2010 team. “[It’s a] big advantage going into a game like this.”

Hillsdale drew Monterey (23-4), but, like El Camino and Burlingame, is playing some of its best baseball right now.

The Knights have won four in a row, all of which were needed to clinch a CCS bid.

“There are expectations [to win] from the kids,” Donohoe said. “The kids expect to come out and play well.”

Either Eddie Pagano (4-4), who started the CCS title game last year, or Robbie Foiles (4-2) will take the mound for the Knights.

“We’ve really played well the last two weeks,” Donohoe said. “The kids are really looking forward to coming out.”

All three teams will begin the playoffs on the road.

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Zack Farmer

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