Two Palo Alto baseball teams kept their respective postseasons alive with do-or-die victories on Thursday night just yards from each other at the Belmont Sports Complex.
In the District 6 Babe Ruth 14-year-old all-star tournament, Palo Alto toppled San Mateo, 10-0, in the championship challenge game that ended after five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Before that game ended, Palo Alto National continued its march through the District 52 Majors 11-2 Little League all-star tournament with a 2-1 triumph over Redwood City Highlanders in the consolation bracket at Marina Field.
What those victories mean is a trip for the Palo Alto Babe Ruth team and at least one more game for the Little League squad.
Palo Alto National will be back in Belmont on Saturday to face Palo Alto American in an elimination game at 9 a.m. The winner will advance to Sunday's consolation finals at 11 a.m., most likely against San Mateo National.
Austin Poore slammed a dramatic solo homer over the scoreboard in right field with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning to carry PA National to victory Thursday night.
Teammate Clay Carey pitched a complete game three-hitter, throwing only 65 pitches in the six innings.
Palo Alto National trailed by 1-0, but tied the game in the fourth when Kirby Gee drove home Nick Wells. In the top of the inning, Alec Wong helped turn an important double play to end a potential threat by Highlanders.
In the Babe Ruth showdown, Palo Alto earned a trip to Woodland (near Sacramento) for the Northern California State Tournament beginning July 21 by finally eliminating pesky San Mateo.
The teams played three times during the four-team, double-elimination tournament. Palo Alto won in the second round on Monday, 7-5, lost the championship game Wednesday, 5-4, and came back a night later to end San Mateo's season.
The triumph for Palo Alto made up for last season when San Mateo battled through the consolation bracket and beat Palo Alto twice for the district title.
"That's a good team, they'll do well in Woodland," San Mateo coach Jay Ryan said of Palo Alto.
Palo Alto had the edge on hits, took advantage of four errors and used aggressive base running to full effect behind starting pitcher Kyle Barnes. Also, it did not hurt that Palo Alto was facing an opponent that was playing its fifth game in six days.
San Mateo threatened to take the lead in the third by loading the bases with one out. A fly ball to left appeared to be enough to score the runner from third, but the runner left too early and had to return to the bag. Barnes then induced a groundout to end the threat.
Palo Alto scored all the runs it would need in the bottom of the third on run-scoring singles by Joe Xavier, T.J. Braff and Kevin Anderson produced a 3-0 lead. In the fifth, Palo Alto turned a 4-0 lead into a game-ending rally with six runs. Will Glazier and Jack Hannan both had run-scoring singles and Ryan Chilcoat connected on an RBI single. After two errors, Chilcoat eventually scored to make it 10-0.
Barnes pitched a complete-game six-hitter and received plenty of help from Anderson and Hannan, both of whom had two of their team's 11 hits.