By Andrew Preimesberger
Palo Alto Online Sports
Senior right-hander Austin Marcus threw six innings, struck out 10, and allowed just three hits to lead Menlo School to a 2-1 West Bay Division baseball win over host Sacred Heart Prep on Friday afternoon.
Menlo is now tied for the division lead with Sacred Heart and improved to 7-1 (17-7 overall) while the Gators fell to 7-1 (16-9 overall).
"I'm happy for the seniors," said Menlo head coach Craig Schoof. "They got to rise up and beat Prep for the last time -- it's been a fun week; we'll see what happens in CCS."
Marcus started off the first inning strong for the Knights as he struck out three of the five batters he faced. The senior had five strikeouts through the first three innings.
Menlo's offense struggled early on against crafty senior pitcher Tyler VauDell as he allowed just two hits in the first four innings. VauDell had a effective outing with eight strikeouts and only one earned run through seven innings.
Sacred Heart notched its first hit off Marcus in the fourth inning and had only four in the game. The Gators' offense had runners in scoring position seven times, but failed to knock them in.
The Gators were threatening in the fifth inning when Marcus loaded the bases for junior Casey McDonald. McDonald struck out on a blazing 0-2 fastball on the outside corner, and the game remained scoreless.
In the sixth, Knights' senior Adam Greenstein got aboard on a throwing error by the Gators shortstop. Pinch-hitter Christian Pluchar didn't wait around once he came to the plate; he connected on the first pitch he saw and drilled a home run to left putting the Knights up 2-1.
"I had a really good feeling about it right off the bat; I was looking for something I could hit and I got all of it," said Pluchar.
"As a team we played our hearts out today," said Marcus. "We had two guys getting surgery today and wanted to play for them. We played in their honor and we did a great job in that respect."
Menlo will take on Pinewood on Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Purissima Fields while Sacred Heart will battle Harker on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
"The ball is in our court," said Schoof. "We have two games left to go, so we've got to hold serve."