The St. Francis High baseball team has won eight-straight games in Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division play since losing to Salinas High on March 19. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

A trio of local baseball teams have been preparing this week for the upcoming Central Coast Section baseball playoffs.

Aptos, St. Francis and Scotts Valley high schools will have the luxury of hosting the quarterfinals after earning a high seed in their respective divisions. Below is a quick breakdown for each matchup.

Division II 

St. Francis High junior Nash Horton made his return to the Sharks baseball team after he sat out with an arm injury during the 2023 season. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

No. 4 St. Francis vs. No. 5 The King’s Academy, Saturday at 3pm

Pacific Coast Athletic League Gabilan Division runner-up St. Francis (22-4, 18-3) earned the No. 2 seed. They will play No. 7 The King’s Academy (15-10-1, 10-4)—runner-up in the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division final standings. 

The Knights are led by hitters Nate Plata, Ethan Johnson, Anthony White, Shane Santaga, Toby Trotter and Sean DeBoard.

Plata is batting a .452 average (38-of-84), with two home runs, two triples, five doubles, 18 RBIs and 19 runs scored this season, according to statistics on the MaxPreps website.  

TKA also has a deep roster of pitchers that includes Trotter, White and DeBoard.   

The Sharks also have an array of hitters in Pedro Ibarra, Nash Horton, Micah Cervantes, Javier Fonseca and Nicholas Fantl.

Horton is batting a .489 average (45-of-92) with three home runs, three triples, 10 doubles, 33 RBIs, 33 runs scored and 23 stolen bases.

Not far behind Horton is Cervantes with 41 hits, 23 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 13 stolen bases for the Sharks. 

Ibarra—a San Jose State University commit—is batting a .432 average (35-for-81) with three home runs, one triple, 10 doubles, 32 RBIs, 23 runs scored and 13 stolen bases.  

On the mound, the Sharks are led by seniors Trey Silva and Adrian Leon, and junior Evan Dyer.

Silva has a team-best 41 strikeouts, followed by Leon (35), Dyer (29) and Ibarra (25), who will also make an appearance every now and then. 

Division III 

Aptos High junior pitcher Jason Yaeger led the Mariners baseball team to an 8-4 victory over San Lorenzo Valley High in Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League action on March 19. (Juan Reyes/The Pajaronian)

No. 1 Aptos vs. No. 8 Hollister, Saturday at 1pm

Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League champion Aptos (12-11-1, 10-4-1) earned the top seed in the Division III playoffs. 

As a result, the Mariners get to host the No. 8 Haybalers (12-15, 11-10), who placed fourth in the PCAL Gabilan Division final standings.

Key players to watch for on Hollister include Braydon Barone, Brayden Watkins, Dominic Esparza, Jake Esparza and Westin Aviles. 

The Mariners have a strong core of hitters in Matt Hood, Ed Peters, Isaiah Work, Cole McGillicuddy, Jack Reed and Jorden Espinoza.

Espinoza—a Texas Tech commit—also commands the mound for Aptos. The standout pitcher has a 6-1 record with 101 strikeouts and a 2.33 ERA in 11 appearances. 

Jason Yager has also been a huge contributor with 46 strikeouts in 10 appearances for the Mariners.

Division IV 

Scotts Valley High senior Blake LaRiviere was both a first baseman and pitcher for the Falcons baseball team during the 2024 regular season. (Paul Firenzi/special to the Press Banner)

No. 4 Scotts Valley vs. No. 5 Willow Glen, Saturday at noon

SCCAL runner-up Scotts Valley High (16-7, 10-5) is currently riding a nine-game winning streak and is one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs. They earned the No. 4 seed in the Division IV bracket.

First up is No. 5 Willow Glen (15-12, 10-8), which is looking to avenge its May 11 regular season finale 4-2 loss to this same Falcons team.

The Rams placed fourth in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Mt. Hamilton Division this season. Players to watch for include Brogan Enos, Aiden Januario and Haas Perry. 

Enos is batting a .342 average (27-of-79) with eight doubles, one triple, 16 RBIs and 16 runs scored.  

The main pitchers for Willow Glen include Spencer Bartlinski, Isaiah Giambruno and Ryder Frost.

Frost has a team-best 40 strikeouts, followed by Giambruno (37) and Bartlinski (29). 

Scotts Valley has a flock of Falcons in Quinn Turowski, Jack Abel, Jack Sanders, Blake LaRiviere, Kaleb Wing, Jacob Pauka and Clayton Pryor who can let it fly at the plate. 

Turowski has a team-best 32 hits, including 10 doubles and a pair of home runs. He’s also produced 22 RBIs and 27 runs scored for Scotts Valley. 

The rest of the big hitters each have 20-plus hits along with double digit numbers in both RBIs and runs scored this season.

Scotts Valley’s go-to pitchers this year are Corbin Giesen, Colin Melrose and LaRiviere—who has a team-best 48 strikeouts for the Falcons.

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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