Hollywood High's varsity baseball team was red hot at the end of the season and the Sheiks' strong finish has earned them their highest playoff seed ever.
The City Section Division II pairings were announced Wednesday morning and Hollywood is seeded No. 2 in the 20-team tournament scheduled to start Friday.
On Tuesday, Hollywood will host the winner of Friday's wild-card game between Franklin and Fremont. First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 3 p.m. at an alternate home site, Crystal Springs in Griffith Park.
Maywood Academy (19-3, 14-0) — the only to team to finish ahead of the Sheiks in the Southern League — earned the top seed in the tournament. Being picked second ensures that Hollywood (17-5, 12-2) is on the opposite half of the draw wouldn't face the Nighthawks until the finals.
Hollywood Coach Cary Cauley believed his team would earn a Top-5 seed in the tournament, but didn't see the Sheiks getting as high as No. 2.
"I'm surprised because I figured whoever won the Coliseum League would get the No. 2 seed, and Wilson, who came in second in the Northern League, would get the three seed," the sixth-year coach said. "I think we got the two because we beat Locke, which won the Coliseum League."
Cauley can thank a scorching hot finish to the season for Hollywood's enviable position. The Sheiks won 10 of their last 11 games, beating every league opponent on the schedule.
Though it can go through ruts on offense and in the field, Hollywood's pitching depth will make it a tough out in the tournament. The Sheiks gave up the fewest runs in Division II this season (61), and allowed three or fewer runs in 18 of their 22 games.
"It's kind of a cliche thing, but we're built for the playoffs," Cauley said. "Most teams have a good No. 1 starter, but we have two of them, plus a closer."
Cauley is referring to starters Isidro Torres (8-3, 2.67 ERA) and Jose Chavez (3-2, 2.28) and stopper George Onate (1-0, three saves, 2.10 ERA). That trio gives the Sheiks a chance to win nearly every game.
Torres will start Tuesday's playoff opener, with Chavez pitching in the next round if Hollywood advances.
Hollywood's seeding was supposed to give the Sheiks home-field through the first two rounds of the playoffs, but they will have to play at Crystal Springs because the Hollywood High field has been rented out next week to Disney, which will be premiering its latest movie, Cars 2.
"It's a good field but it's not a home-field advantage," Cauley said of Crystal Springs. "We're used to the quirks of our own field, and on top of that they're going to have to bus us over there to practice. We'll also have to practice on the tennis court the day before our game, which obviously is not the best situation."
Home-field woes not withstanding, Hollywood has a good chance to advance to the finals June 4 at Dodger Stadium.
"The path that we have to the championship game because we are the two seed is very good for us," Cauley said. "That is, if the right team shows up, which we have for the last 10 or 11 games. We should be able to do what we're supposed to do."
The City Section Division II pairings:
Wild-card games, Friday, 3 p.m.
No. 17 Santee at No. 16 King-Drew
No. 20 Huntington Park at No. 13 Lincoln
No. 19 Canoga Park at No. 14 Dorsey
No. 18 Fremont at No. 15 Franklin
First round, Tuesday, 3 p.m.
King Drew/Santee winner at No. 1 Maywood
No. 9 North Hollywood at No. 8 Los Angeles University
No. 12 Los Angeles at No. 5 Gardena
Lincoln/Huntington Park winner at No. 4 Locke
Dorsey/Canoga Park winner at No. 3 Crenshaw
No. 11 Van Nuys at No. 6 Wilson
No. 10 South Gate at No.7 West Adams
Franklin/Fremont winner at No. 2 Hollywood