Sports

Balk ends Menlo-Atherton's CCS baseball hopes in 2-1 loss

It was a historic season for the Menlo-Atherton baseball team, which advanced to the semifinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs for the first time ever. The Bears, however, will have to wait to make further history.

Wilcox took advantage of a two-out balk in the bottom of the sixth inning to edge Menlo-Atherton, 2-1, Thursday evening in the CCS Division I semifinals at San Jose Municipal Stadium. The defeat ended a magical postseason playoff run for the Bears (18-13-1).

Wilcox will face Westmont in the CCS Division I championship game on Saturday evening. Westmont defeated Sequoia, 2-0, in the other semifinal game on Thursday and will play for its first section title in 32 years.

With the game knotted 1-1 in the bottom of the sixth, M-A starting pitcher Erik Amundson hit Wilcox leadoff batter Lorenzo Martinez with a pitch. After a passed ball moved the go-ahead run into scoring position, Amundson walked cleanup hitter Bradley Wilson.

With runners on first and second, Amundson retired the next hitter on a foul popup. After a stolen base moved the potential go-ahead run to third, Amundson struck out the next Wilcox batter. One out away from escaping trouble, however, Amundson committed a balk that allowed the Chargers to take a 2-1 lead.

Wilcox starting pitcher Andrew Najeeb-Brush then struck out the side in the top of the seventh inning to end the Bears' season. Najeeb-Brush whiffed 10 M-A batters for game, scattering five hits to earn the victory. Amundson (8-6), meanwhile, took the loss, despite a brilliant performance during which he allowed just six hits, walked one, and racked up eight strikeouts.

Amundson had a strong evening at the plate as well, going 2-for-3 and driving in the Bears' only run with a loud sixth-inning double to left field. Brett Moriarty, Daniel Kollar-Gasiewski, and Lawson Joos accounted for M-A's other base hits.

After tying the game on Amundson's sixth-inning double, the Bears squandered an opportunity to take the lead when they left the bases loaded. For the game, each team left four runners on base.

The CCS Division I semifinal marked the final high school baseball game for nine M-A seniors: Amundson, Moriarty, Charlie Cain, Jordan Long, Joos, Matt DeTrempe, Paul DeTrempe, Colin Martell, and Leo McCabe.

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