AT A GLANCE
WHO: No. 1 Ripon Christian vs. No. 8 Firebaugh
WHAT: CIF State Division V Northern Regionals
WHEN: Today, 2 p.m.
WHERE: Ripon Christian
ADMISSION: $9 general, $5 children/students (ASB card)/seniors
Ripon Christian captured its second Sac-Joaquin Section championship last week but ventures into uncharted territory today when the Knights begin the California Interscholastic Federation Division V Northern Regional playoffs.
The reigning SJS Division VII champs have been awarded the No. 1 seed for NorCals and are hosting Firebaugh in the opening round. The start time has been changed to 2 p.m. to allow Firebaugh’s seniors to attend their Grad Nite trip.
This is just the second year of the NorCal playoffs, as CIF continues to expand the postseason at the state level in all sports. Ripon Christian is the first Manteca-area school to qualify for NorCals in baseball.
The Knights (22-7) are coming off an 11-3 win over then-defending champ Turlock Christian in the Section finals, decisively avenging an early-season loss.
The eighth-seeded Eagles (17-16) from Firebaugh are the runners-up of the West Sierra League and now three-time Central section champions. They’re on a six-game winning streak after defeating 13th-seeded East Bakersfield 4-1 in their CS Division V final last Friday.
Firebaugh is led by senior pitcher/infielder Isaiah Leyva, a West Sierra Co-MVP last year. He’s their top hitter with a .333 batting average, 33 runs, 16 RBIs and 10 extra-base hits in the regular season. He’s also a terror on the base paths with 27 steals and the Eagles’ ace pitcher with a 6-4 record, 2.93 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings.
The NorCal semifinals and final take place Thursday and Saturday at the higher-seeded teams’ host sites. The Ripon Christian-Firebaugh winner takes on No. 4 Skyline (17-4) or No. 5 Lowell (15-10) — they’re champions of the Oakland Section and San Francisco AAA Section, respectively.
On the other end of the bracket, North Coast Section Division V runner-up University (21-8) of San Francisco is the No. 2 seed and hosts No. 7 Los Molinos (18-4) of the Northern Section, while Northern Section Division VI champ Etna (19-5-1) welcomes NCS Division VI runner-up Ferndale (9-9) in the 3-6 matchup.