The stage is the same. Some key players are the same. The roles, at least on paper, are completely flipped.
For the second straight year, Valencia and West Ranch highs will play in the final week of the season with the Foothill League baseball title on the line.
This time, though, it’s Valencia chasing the Wildcats.
West Ranch (19-6 overall, 12-1 in Foothill) beat the Vikings (21-7, 11-2) twice in the final week last season to force a co-championship.
The Wildcats enter today’s game at Valencia at 3:30 p.m. with a one-game lead for first place.
The teams will meet again Thursday at West Ranch in the regular-season finale.
Does entering the week in first place change the series’ feel?
“I think it carries the same type of feel,” said West Ranch coach Casey Burrill. “You have two teams that respect each other. Both feel like they deserve the league title.”
Valencia coach Mike Killinger believes that even though his team enters today in a technically worse position, the Vikings are playing better baseball now than they were then.
“Hopefully that translates to better results for us,” he said.
The Vikings will send ace Chase Farrell to the hill today opposite West Ranch lefty Alex Burge.
Farrell has gone at least six innings in seven of his 10 starts and currently boasts a 1.49 ERA.
He struck out 21 Wildcats in two seven-inning outings against them earlier this season.
Burge, West Ranch’s No. 2, has been better than solid, posting an 8-2 record and 2.62 ERA.
The Wildcats tweaked their rotation around spring break to shift ace Timmy Josten to the second league game of each week.
He’ll likely face Valencia’s Lukas White on Thursday. The Vikings will look to use righty Ben Fariss, who had been half of the league’s most-dominant rotation entering the season, for three to four innings this week.
Fariss dealt with soreness in his pitching arm around spring break, and Killinger is easing him back to work, the coach said.
West Ranch beat Valencia in league on March 29, 3-2.
The Vikings beat West Ranch 3-1 in the championship of a spring break tournament.