One of the challenges facing Palo Alto baseball coach Erick Raich this season is finding a way to defend the Central Coast Section Division I title. Another may be more daunting.
Raich has 26 players on his roster, which makes for not only a crowded bench but interesting practices and game days. In close games, most of the Vikings will be sitting.
That wasn't the case on Monday as Palo Alto hosted Menlo School in a showdown between last season's CCS Division II and III champions. The Vikings pounded out 12 hits and got 18 players to the plate for at least one at-bat during a lopsided 13-4 nonleague victory.
Nine of those players produced hits, with John Dickerson, Justin Grey and Ozzie Braff getting two apiece.
Dickerson also drove in three runs while Grey and BJ Boyd had two RBI each. A nine-run second inning blew the game open and made it easy for Raich to stick to his plan of having as many pitchers reach the mound as possible. Six did, combining for a six-hitter while allowing three earned runs.
Sophomore Danny Erlich pitched two perfect innings and junior Nick Wells tossed one as Raich kept his aces fresh for this week's SCVAL De Anza Division games against Mountain View on Wednesday and Friday, the latter at Paly at 3:30 p.m.
The Vikings lead the division at 3-0-1 and are 9-1-1 overall, the only blemish coming in a 14-2 loss to East Bay power Campolindo on Feb. 25.
What Palo Alto didn't produce against Campolindo, it did against Menlo with its offensive output. The Vikings scored all nine runs in the second after two were out. All were unearned. Dickerson had the big hit, a bases-loaded single that brought in two runs and made it a 5-0 game. Menlo could have gotten out of the inning a number of times, once when Boyd was safe at first on a throwing error to keep the inning alive
Braff scored on another throwing error (6-0), Dickerson scored after a delayed steal (7-0), Grey blooped a fly ball down the right-field line for an 8-0 game, Clay Carey singled in Grey (9-0) and Isaac Feldstein ripped a double to make it 10-0.
Menlo senior Freddy Avis, who has committed to Stanford, had two hits for the Knights.
In another nonleague game, Menlo-Atherton (6-2) edged host Sacred Heart Prep (8-2-1) by a 2-1 tally.
Junior Andrew Buchanan led Menlo School to a ninth-place finish at the Marin Catholic Wildcat Invitational at The Meadow Club in Fairfax on Monday. The Wildcat Invitational is the one of the largest high school golf tournaments in Northern California, featuring 23 of the top high school golf teams and more than 120 high school golfers.
Buchanan carded one eagle and two bogeys on the day and finished with an even-par 71, which tied for third place in the large field. Buchanan also finished third last year.
Foothill (Pleasanton) won the team title with 373 strokes 93 while perennial Central Coast Section power R.L. Stevenson was second at 388 and De La Salle of Concord tied for third at 392. Menlo finished with 407 while Sacred Heart Prep was just three strokes back and tied with Serra for 11th.
Rounding out Menlo scores were 81s shot by senior Will Petit and freshman Ethan Wong; an 86 shot by senior Jackson Dean and senior James Huber's 89.
The course was in great shape despite the recent rains and while the weather was cool, the winds were light providing excellent scoring conditions for the players. Kevin Knox paced SHP with a 2-over 73 while Spencer Clark shot 81, Andrew Vetter shot 82, Zach Lamb had an 86 and Bradley Knox carded an 88.