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By Zach Cavanagh
The final guaranteed CIF-SS baseball playoff spot in the South Coast League will come down one final series in the last week of the regular season.
Entering Friday, April 22, Dana Hills (9-15) and Tesoro (17-7) each sit tied for third place in the league with a 3-5 league record and four games to play. On Friday, the Dolphins play at last-place El Toro, and the Titans play at league champion Capistrano Valley. Then, next week, Dana Hills and Tesoro lock in for three games to decide the last guaranteed playoff spot.
Dana Hills will play at Tesoro on Tuesday, April 26, and then host the Titans on Wednesday, April 27. The Dolphins will finish at Tesoro on Friday, April 29. Dana Hills is playing for a spot in the CIF-SS Division 1 playoffs, while Tesoro is ranked No. 3 in Division 4.
Don’t count out either Dana Hills or Tesoro catching up to second-place Mission Viejo, either. The Diablos are 1½ games ahead of the Dolphins and Titans at 5-4, but Mission Viejo finishes with a three-game set against Capistrano Valley. The Diablos could tie the Cougars for the league crown with a sweep, but Dana Hills or Tesoro could pass Mission Viejo if either wins out and the Diablos lose twice. Mission Viejo would hold the tiebreaker over Dana Hills or Tesoro, thanks to series wins over both.
Coming into this past week, the Dolphins hadn’t won a South Coast League game since their league opener against Mission Viejo on March 29. Dana Hills had won only once in the nine games since, with the win coming in its Ryan Lemmon Tournament opener on April 2.
Dana Hills was swept in three games against Capistrano Valley last week, with losses of 11-7, 6-1 and 4-3.
However, the Dolphins got some respite this week and leapfrogged El Toro out of last place in the South Coast League. El Toro came off a surprising sweep of Mission Viejo, but then Dana Hills posted a 7-2 win at El Toro on Tuesday, April 19. The Dolphins edged the Chargers, 5-4, at Dana Hills on Wednesday, April 20. El Toro’s regular season will be over after Friday’s home game.
Dana Hills will ultimately learn its playoff fate when the CIF-SS brackets are released on May 2. Division 1 wild-card games would be played May 4, and the first round is on May 6.
Zach Cavanagh is the sports editor for Picket Fence Media. Zach is multiple California Journalism Award winner and has covered sports in Orange County since 2013. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ZachCav and follow our sports coverage on Twitter @SouthOCSports. Email at email@example.com.