The Oaks defended their No. 1 seed in the Palo Alto Babe Ruth League Championship tournament, but it wasn't easy as it took a pair of games to decide the title on Monday night at Baylands Athletic Center.
"I didn't say anything after that first game," said The Oaks head coach Rick Farr. "They just came out in the second game and took care of business on their own."
The Oaks had only 10 players (including four 13-year-olds) for both games, but they had new guys step up and make contributions.
"We were missing a few key players," said Farr. "It gave these other guys a chance to step up and they did it. It definitely made it more challenging."
Daniel Rabello lined a single to left field, scoring Lucas Hu from second base, to give The Oaks a 3-0 lead after the first inning.
In the third inning, Jeremy Akioka came through for Ada's Café and knocked in Ryan Chang with a single to tie the game at 3.
An RBI single by Ben Cleasby in the bottom of the fourth gave The Oaks a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish. Cleasby and teammate Ethan Stern combined for six hits and two walks in Game 2.
The Oaks broke the game open in the fifth inning and made it an 8-3 game when Nicholas McCluskey scored on a wild pitch.
Cleasby also came on in relief of Stern in the top of the fifth, preserving the victory by striking out the side in the top of the seventh. The two allowed only a combined two earned runs.
"Neither one of these guys has pitched that much," said Farr. "Ethan did a great job giving us 5 1/3 innings. Ben has only pitched one inning this year and he gave us five outs."
"You could tell the energy level for us just wasn't there in the first game," said Cleasby. "Things weren't exactly going our way so we had to regroup and we got our energy level back up and things just started working."
In Game 1, Ada's Cafe pounded out 22 hits and scored five runs in the second to force the nightcap. Bradley Smith and Ryan Chang each had four hits for the winners.
The top players on each team now move on to District 6 all-star action.
The 13-year-olds from Palo Alto will open Wednesday against Bel-Mateo at McKelvey Park in Mountain View at 6:30 p.m. The winner advances to Thursday's winners' bracket at 6:30 p.m., while the loser plays Friday at 1 p.m.
Palo Alto's roster includes Andrew Bergeron, Shiva Bucklin, Eric Chang, Eric Epstein, Kelly Garret, Daniel Heimuli, Seattle Hmelar, Joshua Kasevich, Robert Lopez, Joey Olshausen, Daniel Rabello, Spencer Rojhan, Christian Wagner, Anthony Waller, Jackson Yandle. The alternates are Reece Lindquist, Michael Panitchpakdi and William Campbell.
The Palo Alto 14-year-olds also will open District 6 action Wednesday, facing Mountain View at the Belmont Sports Complex at 7 p.m. The winner will play Thursday at 7 p.m., with the loser playing Friday at 10 a.m.
Palo Alto's roster includes John Bird, Kodiak Conrad, Evan Easton, John Guiragossian, Lawrence Han, Albert Han, Brian Knapp, Daniel Kollar-Gasiewski, AJ Lemons, Jared Lucian,
Mitchell Martella, Rylan Pade, Jackson Salabert, Alexii Sigona and Ryan Voltattorni. The alternate is Shane Stafford.
The Palo Alto 15-year-olds will host on Thursday at Baylands, taking on Belmont Red at 5:30 p.m. The winner will face the Mountain View-Belmont Blue winner on Saturday at 5 p.m. The championship game will be Wednesday, July 9 at 5:30 p.m.
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