It was a good news, bad news kind of night for the Palo Alto Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-stars at the District 6 Tournament on Wednesday at Baylands Athletic Center.
First the bad news.
The championship game against unbeaten Belmont Blue started 20 minutes late. And, when all was said and done, Palo Alto came out on the short end of 4-3 decision.
Now the good news. None of that mattered.
Thanks to Eureka pulling out of the next tournament, Palo Alto took the field in the finals knowing full well it already had a trip to the NorCal State Tournament locked up.
District 6 wound up getting three berths in the NorCal State event because Bel-Mateo (represented by Belmont Blue and Belmont Red in the district tourney) is the NorCal host.
Palo Alto will open against District 5 champ Tri-Valley on July 19 at the Belmont Sports Complex at 10 a.m. A win will put Palo Alto against the winner of Mountain View and District 3.
The Palo Alto 15s wound up being eliminated by Tri-Valley last year in the consolation bracket.
Bel-Mateo, meanwhile, is in bracket opposite Palo Alto. The tourney runs through July 24.
Palo Alto's pitching staff will be well-rested by then. Ben Simon saw to that by pitching all seven innings. He allowed nine hits overall, but just two over the first four innings.
Had Palo Alto won Wednesday's first game, a challenge game would have followed and Palo Alto's pitching staff would have been tested.
Palo Alto, however, managed just five hits against Belmont Blue while falling to them for the second time since an 11-2 loss on Saturday.
Palo Alto grabbed an early 1-0 lead when Ryan Chang and Charlie Racz produced back-to-back doubles in the first inning.
Belmont Blue scored twice in the fifth for a 2-1 lead, but Palo Alto scored twice in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead at 3-2. Pete Snodgrass singled and scored on a single by Brian Tracy. Angus Stayte, who had followed Snodgrass with a walk, then scored on a single by Andrew Tam.
Palo Alto, however, couldn't hold the lead and gave up two more runs to Belmont in the top of the seventh.
The Palo Alto 13- and 14-year-old all-stars will get their respective NorCal State tournaments underway on Saturday.
The 14s will open against District 2 at Clark Field in Woodland at 10 a.m., while the 13s will be at Wilson Park in Vallejo, taking on District 2 at 4 p.m.