Palo Alto senior pitcher Chris Smith threw a one-hit, seven-inning shut out to lead the Vikings to a 5-0 victory over visiting Wilcox as the Vikings won their SCVAL De Anza Division playoff-opening series on Thursday.
"We played two of our best game we've played all year," said Palo Alto head coach Eric Raich. "We're hoping that we can keep this going into next week. It was exciting to have Chris (Smith) have an 'A' game and our offense executing today -- If we keep this going we've got a shot to make a run."
Smith had a stellar game by throwing seven innings with seven strikeouts, zero earned runs and only one hit given up. The senior had a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings.
"I was just trying to get ahead early in the count and pound the zone," said Smith, who plans to attend University of Oregon. "I haven't pitched at home all year; it was exciting to pitch in front of my family today."
The Vikings got on the scoreboard first in the third inning when senior Bowen Gerould knocked a base hit to left field, scoring Anthony Lim from second. On the same play, Daniel Tachna-Fram scored from first when the ball skipped by the left fielder for an error, giving Palo Alto a 2-0 lead.
Palo Alto senior Jack Cleasby made it a 3-0 game in the third inning when he drove in Gerould from third on a base hit to left-center field. Cleasby now has a superb .422 batting average on the season.
In the fifth inning, Lim grounded a ball to the first basemen, driving in junior Phil Lewis and giving the Vikings a comfortable 5-0 lead after five innings.
Smith struck out senior first basemen Patrick Tolbert looking on a curveball to complete the one hit shutout and seal the 5-0 win for the Vikings.
"It gives us an opportunity to at least say, 'hey we hold our fate in our hands for another league title'," said Raich. "If we come out and do what we've done and execute and do the things that we're capable of doing, then we'll be happy."
Palo Alto, which lost twice to Wilcox during the regular season, now awaits the winner of Friday's game between Saratoga and Los Gatos. That series is tied, 1-1, after Saratoga's 8-7 victory on Thursday.
In another playoff series, Gunn (2-26) was knocked into next week's consolation series following an 11-4 loss to visiting Homestead. Should the Titans (2-26) lose their next series, they'll be relegated to the El Camino Division next season.
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