In recent years, Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School meeting in baseball usually meant only one thing -- which team was going to take over the lead in the West Bay Athletic League race. Now, however, things are different with both squads competing in the PAL Bay Division.
The local rivals met for the first time in league play on Wednesday with host Menlo posting a 10-1 victory to open the Bay Division season. The Knights (1-0, 5-2) broke the game open with six runs in the bottom of the third, sparked by Jared Lucian's two-run double. Sophomore catcher Carson Gampell cracked three hits and senior Graham Stratford added two as senior Wyatt Driscoll tossed four innings of shutout ball to gain his third win of the season.
While only one automatic berth into the Central Coast Section playoffs was available in the WBAL, the PAL Bay Division will receive five automatic berths for its seven teams this season.
One of those teams with a good shot at an automatic CCS berth is Menlo-Atherton, which posted a 6-2 victory over visiting Half Moon Bay in another division opener Wednesday. The Bears moved to 1-0 and 7-2 as junior Matt McGarry held Half Moon Bay (0-1, 5-3) hitless over the first four innings, then relied on help from his bullpen.
McGarry earned his first victory of the season with an eight-strikeout performance over five innings, surrendering just two runs on four hits and four walks. Fellow junior A.J. Lemons helped the Bears escape a sixth-inning jam with a strikeout and double play, and senior Colin Martell got the game's final two outs while stranding two Half Moon Bay base runners.
Seniors Erik Amundson and Brett Moriarty led M-A's offense with two hits apiece, junior catcher Daniel Kollar-Gasiewski added a two-run single, and shortstop Jordan Long smashed the Bears' first home run of the season. In all, the Bears accumulated nine hits from seven different players.
The Bears grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Amundson reached on a fielder's choice, stole his fifth base of the season, and then scored on Moriarty's run-scoring single (his team-leading 10th RBI of the season, to go along with a .484 batting average). Amundson has scored a team-leading 10 runs for M-A and is hitting .345.
M-A increased its edge in the third with a four-run two-out rally, keyed by Kollar-Gasiewski's two-run single and three Half Moon Bay errors. Long made it 6-0 in the bottom of the fourth when he led off with a booming home run that easily cleared the left-field fence. The Bears' shortstop is now hitting .389 with six RBI and an on-base percentage of .538.
The Cougars threatened with two runs on three hits in the top of the sixth, but M-A shut out the visitors the rest of the way to claim the victory. The Bears played their second consecutive errorless game, including a key double play turned by third baseman Moriarty with two runners on the basepaths and one out in the sixth inning.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, both Palo Alto and Gunn couldn't use their respective home fields to their advantage and dropped games.
Palo Alto hosted first-place Wilcox (3-0, 9-1) and gave up three runs in the top of the seventh while dropping a 7-3 decision. Jack Cleasby had a double and Phil Lewis drove in two runs with a triple in the first inning. The Vikings' pitching staff allowed 10 walks and hit three batters as Paly fell to 2-1 in league (3-5 overall).
At Gunn, the Titans (0-3, 1-8) were blasted by Mountain View, 18-4. The Spartans had 20 hits against an injury-depleted Gunn pitching staff, which lost three returning pitchers to injury before the season got under way.
Ravi Levens had a triple among his two hits and David Schwandt drove in two runs for Gunn, which committed seven errors.