With a regular season championship and an outright title for the SCVAL championship, the Palo Alto High School baseball team (22-6, 13-1), will enter the CCS Open Division tournament this Saturday, seeded fifth, not fourth, as a result of what Viking players say is a flawed point system.
Despite finishing two games ahead of the Los Gatos Wildcats (21-8, 11-3), and beating them in the SCVAL championship last Saturday, Paly received a lower seed and has to face the Wildcats again in the quarterfinals of CCS at 2 p.m. this Saturday at Washington Park in Santa Clara.
The team looks to win the first round of CCS, a feat the Vikings have not accomplished in the Open Division ever.
“I’m really excited for Saturday,” senior infielder Max Jung-Goldberg said. “I love playing [Los] Gatos, so getting them in the first round is going to be fun and ultra competitive.”
The CCS brackets are operated on a point system and set of bylaws, that rewards fewer points for playing teams outside the CCS section, even if the team is nationally ranked.
This season, Paly was invited to The Boras Classic of California, a state tournament that connects elite athletes, collegiate coaches and MLB scouts from all over the country. Paly won two games in the tournament, but was rewarded fewer points than others for beating teams outside its section.
“I’m not one 100-percent sure how the seeding works, but in my opinion there needs to be a change,” Jung-Goldberg said. “The fact that Valley Christian isn’t the one-seed in Open CCS, but is ranked number two in the nation makes no sense to me. We beat Gatos two-of-three times, won the the league and league tournament. Somehow they are ranked higher than us.”
This year, the CCS Board of Managers’ changed the Open Division to eight teams, instead of the normal 16 allotted spots, in hopes of eventually adding a state tournament; something CIF baseball does not currently have.
With automatic bids going to six of eight teams for being A-league champions, many top teams are eliminated from the Open division.
Los Gatos enters the tournament as the four-seed. The game was previously scheduled at Los Gatos High School, but has since been relocated to a neutral site.
“Home field advantage is out of our control so I don’t think we are that worried about it,” Jung-Goldberg said. “In order to win on Saturday, we are going to have to focus on what we can control. Throwing strikes, playing catch and taking productive at bats. If we do those things and stay in the present moment, I think we put ourselves in a great position to win.”
The Vikings are hot on 12-game win streak after a walk-off win on a wild pitch in the SCVAL championships against the Wildcats.
“We always believe,” Jung-Goldberg said. “Our team doesn’t quit and we play our hearts out until the final out is made. We don’t care what the score is. We just compete.”