Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - March 26, 2010

Palo Alto doing all the right things worthy of a first-place baseball team

by Keith Peters

When Erick Raich took over the Palo Alto baseball this season, he had a laundry list of things to accomplish. Perhaps the most important was to set a great foundation for the future.

Right now, his Vikings are setting a great foundation for the present.

Getting good hitting, pitching and defense once again, Palo Alto remained tied for the SCVAL De Anza Division lead with a dominating 13-6 victory over visiting Wilcox on Wednesday.

The Vikings (5-0, 9-3) had 13 hits and committed no errors while limiting the Chargers to just six hits. The same teams will meet again Friday in Santa Clara.

Palo Alto (5-0, 9-3) is tied for first place with Los Gatos (5-0, 9-3), with Wilcox (3-2, 8-4) now two games behind in the standings. Monta Vista, Homestead and Los Altos are all 2-3.

Another victory over Wilcox will really set Palo Alto up for the rest of the season.

"Wilcox is always one of our toughest competition in league," said Raich. "We may have gotten them today, but they will be hungry to get back at us on Friday."

Palo Alto grabbed the upper hand quickly after spotting Wilcox two runs in the top of the first. In the bottom of the frame, the Vikings sent nine batters to the plate. They produced four hits and five runs for a 5-2 lead. T.J. Braff and Christoph Bono had RBI singles while Drake Swezey doubled home a run.

Wilcox picked up a run in the third to make it 5-3, but Paly exploded for six runs in the fourth to grab an 11-3 advantage. A walk to Cory Tenanes, an interference call (the ball hit the field umpire) on a grounder by Jack Smale and a single by T.J. Braff loaded the bases. After that, it was a merry-go-round for Paly.

Will Glazier walked in a run, Christian Lonsky singled in another, and Swezey bounced into a fielder's choice that was played into an error trying to get a runner at home. That made it 8-3. After a strikeout, Scott Witte walked for another run, Joc Pederson ripped an RBI single, and Swezey scored on a passed ball for an 11-3 lead.

"I wasn't to surprised with how we swung the bats today,' Raich said. "We had a great week of offensive preparation and our players had a great plan of attack going into the game. We knew what they were going to try to do against us pitching wise and our players stuck with our team's approach."

Wilcox rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh before Braff came in to close the door. Swezey (3-0) gained the win. Braff had three hits while Glazier had two hits, drove in two runs and scored three times.

Despite the impressive victory, Raich didn't believe the win sent any message at this point in the season.

"I don't think that today was really a statement game," he said. "We come with the approach that every time we step on the field to play someone that we attack the game and play hard. Every game is important in our mind."

In the PAL Bay Division, senior pitcher Nils Gilbertson scattered seven hits over 6 1/3 innings, and Chace Warren snapped a 2-2 tie with a run-scoring single in the fifth inning, as host Menlo-Atherton opened its league schedule with a 4-2 victory over Hillsdale Wednesday afternoon.

In addition to his hitting heroics, Warren earned the save when he relieved Gilbertson in the seventh inning and, after walking a Hillsdale batter to load the bases, induced the next hitter to bounce into a game-ending double play.

Gilbertson was nearly flawless after yielding two runs in the first inning, walking just two and striking out three while improving his season record to 2-1. The Bears supported Gilbertson with their best defensive effort of the season, committing just one error. The victory squared M-A's overall record at 4-4 (1-0 in league play), while Hillsdale fell to 3-5 (0-1).

The Bears collected nine hits -- all singles -- off Hillsdale pitcher Greg Hansen, including two each by shortstop Casey Eason and DH Chris Gow. M-A cut Hillsdale's lead to 2-1 on Gow's single in the first inning, and tied the game 2-2 in the third on Ryan Chilcoat's RBI single.

Jeff Keller scored M-A's final run when he dashed home and beat the Hillsdale catcher's tag following a stolen base attempt by Warren.

Menlo-Atherton will attempt to extend its two-game winning streak when it visits Hillsdale on Friday at 3:15 p.m.

After nearly a week off, Menlo picked up where it left off last week, pounding out 13 hits and scoring in double digits for the third straight game as the Knights defeated host Gunn, 13-4, in nonleague play Wednesday.

Offensively, Menlo (7-2) was led by senior Clay Robbins and junior Philip Anderson. Both had three hits while sophomore Freddy Avis and senior Danny Diekroeger hit home runs.

Jack Suiter picked up his first varsity win with four innings of outstanding relief, allowing no earned runs and striking out seven. For Gunn (2-7-2), senior Blake Johnson hit a solo homer in the second. The Knights return to action on Friday when they host King City in a nonleague test at 4 p.m.

On Tuesday, Gunn picked up its first SCVAL El Camino Division win with a 5-3 victory over host Lynbrook. Jon Rea earned the win, pitching a masterful six innings while striking out seven and allowing just three hits. Eric Contreras closed out the game for the save. Sophomore Jake Verhulp made the most of his first start of the season going 3-for-4 with a triple, double and single and scoring two runs. Jon Zeglin had two hits and two RBI for the Titans.

Golf

On a cool and windy day at Shorline Golf Links in Mountain View, Menlo freshman Andrew Buchanan fired a fine 1-under-par round of 35 to earn medalist honors and lead the Knights to a 199-221 West Bay Athletic League victory over host Pinewood. Buchanan was the only player to break 40 on the day. Teammate Bobby Pender added a 40 while Patrick Grimes and MJ Cootsona shot 41 for the Knights (3-0, 6-0). Audrey Proulx led the Panthers with 40 while Max Lippe checked in with a 41.

On Monday, Grimes shot 3-under-par 68 to finish second overall at the Wildcat Invitational at the Meadow Club. Grimes missed tying for medalist honors by a single stroke. Sacred Heart Prep senior Dalan Refioglu shot a 4-over 75 to tie for 14th. Jeff Knox and Brett Van Zanten both shot 78 while Kevin Knox had a 79 and Anthony Tran shot 81 as the Gators shot 391 as a team to finish sixth in the 22-team field.

Girls' lacrosse

Two of the more dominant lacrosse teams in the area for some time have been Menlo and Menlo-Atherton. Now, add Palo Alto to the list following the Vikings' 16-5 dismantling of the visiting Bears on Tuesday in a nonleague match. M-A fell to 2-5.

Charlotte Biffar led the victory with four goals while Maya Fielder, Emy Kelty, Emily Benatar, Kimmie Flather and Emily Fowler all scored twice for the balanced Vikings while Sam Herzog had six assists. Christina Rodgers and Caroline Edwards led M-A with two goals each.

Palo Alto (4-0, 7-0) returned to action Wednesday and handed host Pioneer a 13-9 loss in Santa Clara Valley Athletic League play. Flather scored four goals for Paly, which will host Los Gatos on Friday in a league showdown (4 p.m.) before hosting Santa Catalina on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

In the West Bay Athletic League, senior Maggie Brown scored her sixth goal of the match with 1:17 left in the second overtime to carry the Menlo girls' lacrosse team to a 16-15 overtime victory over visiting Sacred Heart Prep on Wednesday.

Julia Keller of SHP scored with 3:21 left in regulation to tie the match at 15. Neither team scored in the first of two three-minute overtime periods. In the second OT period, SHP goalie Victoria Denholm made a huge save against Brown, who later gained possession and scored the winner. SHP won the ensuing draw, but Menlo came up with the ball and possessed it to protect the victory.

Tory Wilkinson led the Gators (0-1, 5-1) with five goals while Kendall Cody added three. Michaela Michael and Sophie Sheeline each contributed four goals for Menlo, which plays host to Stowe School of Buckinghamshire, England, on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

At Woodside High, Stephanie Merenbach scored 10 goals and Martha Harding added four to pace the Castilleja lacrosse team to a 16-2 romp over Mercy-Burlingame on Tuesday. Charlotte Geaghan-Breiner and Julia Vais added solo goals for the Gators (2-2).

Boys' lacrosse

With Wiley Osborne and Kyle Bullington each scoring three goals, Menlo registered a 14-2 victory over visiting Gunn on Tuesday. The Knights (3-0, 3-1) scored six times in the first quarter and held a 10-1 halftime lead. Chris Brown added two goals and five assists for the Knights, who will host Menlo-Atherton on Thursday at 4 p.m. Ryan Grezeika added two goals and two assists for Menlo.

Elsewhere, Zander Rohn scored three goals as Menlo-Atherton took care of visiting Leland on Tuesday, 14-1. Tommy Cummings, Ryan Johnston, Pierce Osgood and Hassan Saad all added two goals each for the Bears, who took 45 shots while dominating on the offensive end.

First-year program Palo Alto brought a 5-0 record to Los Gatos on Tuesday and, for much of a fiercely contested game, looked to come away with a win. Los Gatos' midfielder Cameron Smith's quick-stick score with 50 seconds remaining was the difference, however, as Palo Alto fell, 8-7, in nonleague action.

Los Gatos improved to 6-1 overall and No. 2 in the SCVAL De Anza Division, while Palo Alto remains atop the El Camino Division. Kris Hoglund led the Vikings with three goals while Brian Keohane added two. Palo Alto goalie Josh Chin recorded an astounding 23 saves, while receiving solid defensive support from Michael Cullen and Cooper Levitan.

Softball

With senior Sammy Albanese striking out 20 batters, Castilleja opened its West Bay Athletic League season with a 7-0 blanking of host Notre Dame-San Jose on Tuesday.

Albanese (6-1-1) was in complete control for the Gators (1-0, 6-1-2) while throwing her sixth no-hitter this season. She now has 152 strikeouts this season. Albanese walked none, but the Gators committed a pair of errors to run an otherwise perfect game. Albanes also had a double and four RBI while Aryana Yee had four hits for Castilleja.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto used big efforts from its four seniors to roll over Milpitas, 10-0, in a division opener on Wednesday. Paly senior pitcher Kelly Jenks threw a shutout while giving up only one hit with the help of some fine defensive plays. Jenks (7-0) has now thrown six shutouts and has not given up an earned run in 49 innings.

Shortstop Lauren Bucolo belted two home runs and drove in four runs. Third basemen Kristen Dauler had three hits, including a double, also driving in a run. Leftfielder Caroline McDonnell had two hits and a RBI.

Paly started in the first after junior Gracie Marshall walked, junior Grace Stafford laid down a sacrifice bunt. Bucolo followed with a two-run homer to left field. In the second inning, Mariah Philips walked and stole second base. Marshall singled her home for a 3-0 lead. Paly waited until the fifth to put the game away. Marshall led off with a base hit. Stafford had another sacrifice and Bucolo followed with her second homer to make it 5-0.

Paly then put together a string of six hits by McDonnell, Caitlin Tirador, Jenks, Anna Gale, Dauler and a three-run triple by Marshall to end the game with a 10-0 score. Palo Alto pounded out 14 hits, bringing its record to 8-0 on the year. The Vikings will continue play in the Charlie Miguel tournament this weekend after going 2-0 in opening rounds last weekend.

Elsewhere, Gunn was considered a contender in the SCVAL El Camino Division this season but got a rude wakeup call in its opener on Tuesday as the Titans dropped a 4-1 decision to visiting Santa Clara. Only a day after taking rival Palo Alto into extra innings before losing, Gunn (0-1, 7-5) scored first but gave up three runs in the sixth and another in the seventh as Gunn freshman pitcher Claire Klausner was touched for nine hits. The Titans managed only four singles.

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