Saddleback Gauchos sit at No. 1 in initial CCCSIA baseball rankings

Saddleback baseball.
Saddleback baseball.

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. - Saddleback College won its only state title in 2004, but the Gauchos are poised for another run as it was voted the No. 1 team in this year's first California Community College Sports Information Association State Top 20 Rankings. 

Saddleback pulled in nine of the 16 first-place votes, edging San Joaquin Delta (five first place tabs) for the top spot by only six total points. The Mustangs have a state-best 19 victories.

Saddleback (18-4 overall) is one of five Orange Empire Conference teams in the top 15, including No. 6 Riverside City, No. 7 Cypress, No. 14 Orange Coast and No. 15 Fullerton. Showing the unpredictable nature of CCC baseball, Saddleback didn't even make last year's state final top 20 while 2017 state champion Grossmont could not crack the initial SID poll.

At No. 3, Sierra (17-4), rolling with the state's current longest win streak at 12 in a row, had the other two first place votes as the Big 8 Conference showed its clout matching the OEC in state 20 members with Delta, No. 10 and last year's state runner-up Santa Rosa JC at No. 10, Sacramento City at No. 11, and No. 19 Folsom Lake. 

Rounding out the top 5 were two South Coast Conference squads in Mt. San Antonio at No. 4 and Cerritos at No. 5. Other top 10 members include No. 8 Palomar and No. 9 Ohlone.

The South has a small edge over the North in the number of ranked teams, 11-9. 

Here are the current state conference leaders at a glance, and the complete CCCSIA Top 20 Rankings.

NORTH
Bay Valley: Unranked Laney (3-0) is the early leader despite just an 11-11 overall mark. No. 17 Marin is a half game back.
Big 8: Sierra is 6-0, three games ahead in the loss column over Delta (6-3) with both SRJC and Sac City each at 4-2.
Central Valley: No. 13 Merced is tied with unranked Sequoias at 5-1.
Coast Golden Gate: Unrated and under-.500 Chabot (10-12) tops this division at 4-2, a half game over Mission.
Coast Pacific: Unranked Hartnell is 8-14 overall, but is the surprise early leader here at 5-0, but 18-4 Ohlone has played two less conference games at 3-0.
Golden Valley: No. 20 Butte tops this conference race at 7-1.

SOUTH
Orange Empire: As expected a close-knit race as Fullerton (5-1) is just ahead of top-ranked Saddleback and Orange Coast, both at 4-2.
Pacific Coast Athletic: Palomar is 8-0 ahead of Grossmont (5-1) and San Diego Mesa (7-2).
South Coast North: Mt. SAC is 7-1 to lead this divisional race over unrated Chaffey (6-2).
South Coast South: No. 16 El Camino is 5-3 and just ahead of higher rated Cerritos at 4-3.
Western State East: No. 12 Glendale is 5-0 and holds a 2-game lead.
Western State North: This will be a dogfight as three current unranked teams -Moorpark, Santa Barbara City, and Ventura - are all tied at 4-2. 
Western State South: No. 18 LA Mission also finds itself in a 3-way battle, tied with unrated Bakersfield and Pierce all at 6-3.

CCCSIA Baseball State Poll (Mar. 19)  
RK Team Record Pts
1. Saddleback (9) 18-4 303
2. San Joaquin Delta (5) 19-4 297
3. Sierra (2) 17-4 249
4. Mt. San Antonio 17-6 243
5. Cerritos 17-5 238
6. Riverside 16-7 235
7. Cypress 16-6 216
8. Palomar 16-7 204
9. Ohlone 18-4 193
10. Santa Rosa 14-5 190
11. Sacramento City 15-6 172
12. Glendale 16-9 117
13. Merced 15-7 99
14. Orange Coast  12-9 96
15. Fullerton  12-9 69
16. El Camino 13-10 58
17. Marin  12-7 53
18. L.A. Mission 16-9 52
19. Folsom Lake 14-7 49
20. Butte 14-8 32
Others: Moorpark (29), Grossmont (24), Santa Barbara (23), Feather River (22), College of the Sequoias (17),
Mission (14), Reedley (14), Cuesta (12), College of the Canyons (12), Pasadena City (9),  Citrus (8), 
College of San Mateo (8), Fresno City (5), Mendocino (1).