"I have been very fortunate this year having such a deep team," he said. "This allowed me to give more guys days off from matches so they could concentrate on homework. In turn, I believe this took off some of the stress I have seen in the past, especially on my junior players. The guys are more relaxed, seem to be having more fun, allowing them to focus on playing better."
Palo Alto certainly has played well this season. The Vikings put the finishing touches on another perfect campaign in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 183-193 victory over rival Gunn on Tuesday during a windy afternoon at Santa Teresa Golf Course in San Jose.
John Knowles fired a 1-under 35 to pace the Vikings, who got even-par rounds from Matt Lewis and Henry Hughes. Sam Niethammer finished with a 37 and Alex Hwang wrapped up the scoring with a 39 as Paly finished undefeated in league for the second straight season while improving to 34-2 over three years.
"I have six guys who could be medalist during any of our rounds," Knight said. "That has been the difference for us. We have more depth and, yes, balance than the other teams — as least by the scores I have been following for each player from the other teams."
Gunn has been the only threat to Paly this season while compiling a 10-2 record. Adam Fleischman led the Titans on Tuesday and earned co-medalist honors with a season-best 35. Jack Jaffe followed with a 37 and Anson Cheng a 38. Shai Mohan finished with a 40 and Yilei Yu wrapped up the Titans' scoring with a 43.
"I wasn't concerned about the weather versus Gunn," Knight said of Tuesday's showdown. "The guys are adapting so well to the conditions, I think it might have helped us. Now, if we have the same weather at our league tournament . . . I don't know. We will be ready."
While the match decided the regular-season title, it also was a preview of next week's league championship tournament, also set for Santa Teresa on Tuesday at 11 a.m. The top two teams will receive automatic berths into a Central Coast Section regional, likely May 6 at Rancho Canada (West) GC in Carmel Valley.
"We won it last year," Knight said of the league tourney. "Hope to do it again this year."
A day after Palo Alto claimed its league title, Sacred Heart Prep captured a share of the West Bay Athletic League title and an automatic berth into a CCS regional with a 199-207 victory over rival Menlo School at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club.
The Gators (9-1, 10-1) finished tied with Harker, which defeated Menlo on Tuesday and handed SHP its only loss this season. SHP junior Derek Ackerman led all scorers with a one-birdie, two- bogey round of 1-over 36. Senior Bradley Knox shot 37 with Bradley Keller firing a 39. William Hsieh and Rohin Chandra each shot 39 for Menlo (6-4).
Next up for SHP and Menlo will be the WBAL Championship next Wednesday at Eagle Ridge in Gilroy. Because Sacred Heart Prep and Harker already have the league's two automatic CCS berths, Menlo must apply for an at-large bid.
Sacred Heart Prep junior Cole March gunned down the tying run at home plate in the seventh inning to secure the Gators' 9-8 PAL Bay Division baseball win over visiting Menlo School on Wednesday afternoon.
The Gators improved to 4-3 (11-7 overall) while the Knights fell to 4-3 (13-7). The loss snapped Menlo's three game win streak and dropped the Knights into a tie for third place with Sacred Heart Prep.
"For us it's a good win to start of the second half of league," said Sacred Heart head coach Gregg Franceschi, whose team played at co-leader Terra Nova on Thursday.
With runners on first and second base and two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Menlo sophomore Antonio Lopez grounded a single to left field. March played it perfectly and threw out junior Macklan Badger at home plate.
"That's a do-or-die play," said Franceschi. "He threw a strike to the plate and (catcher) Chris Lee did a good job of sealing it off and holding on to the ball."
March, a junior, also went 4-for-4 with three RBI, including a triple that he smashed to left-center field.
Menlo went into the bottom half of the fourth inning with a four-run lead after Badger hit a two-run double to left-center field giving his team the 4-0 edge. The Gators answered back for six runs in their fourth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, junior John Van Sweden was walked, giving Sacred Heart a 5-4 lead.
Sacred Heart's lead grew in the fifth inning when junior pitcher Will Johnston helped his own cause and knocked a base hit, scoring March from third and giving the Gators a 8-4 advantage. The junior was 2-for-3 and pitched five innings, picking up his fifth win of the season.
March was huge again for the Gators when he had an RBI single, scoring junior center fielder Andrew Robinson to make it a 9-7 game for the Gators.
On Monday, Erik Amundson hurled a complete-game four-hitter with 11 strikeouts as Menlo-Atherton edged host Burlingame, 4-3. The victory allowed the Bears (5-2, 13-7) to take a temporary half-game lead in the division race.
Amundson, who now leads the PAL Bay Division in wins (six) and strikeouts (61), walked just two batters while improving his season record to 6-2. For the season, Amundson's strikeout-to-walk ratio is a superb 6.78-to-1, and his ERA is a miserly 1.88.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto saw its possible title hopes disappear in a 6-5 loss in 10 innings at first-place Los Gatos. The Vikings fell to 7-4 in league (11-11 overall) while the Wildcats improved to 10-1.
Los Gatos got the deciding run when winning pitcher Corey Olivet led off the bottom of the 10th with a triple. After the next two hitters were intentionally walked, Olivet scored on a high infield chopper.
Palo Alto held a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh when Los Gatos put up the tying run.
Bowen Gerould led Paly with three hits with Austin Kron and Laurence Han adding two hits each.
In another De Anza Division game, Gunn (0-11, 2-20) dropped a 5-1 decision to visiting Los Altos (4-7, 9-12). David Schwardt's RBI single in the sixth inning provided the Titans' only run.
With seniors Brian White and Sean Mayle each scoring five goals, Sacred Heart Prep held on to first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division race with a 17-8 romp over visiting Los Gatos on Tuesday.
The Gators (8-0, 10-3) grabbed a 13-3 halftime lead and cruised from there. Senior Frankie Hattler added four goals plus six assists to finish with a game-high 10 points. Noah Kawasaki, Frank Bell and Will Kremer all added one goal each while goalie Jack Wise came up with 16 saves.
Sacred Heart Prep has four matches remaining, but holds a two-game lead over second-place Menlo (5-2). The Gators can win the division title outright by beating Mountain View and Menlo next week.
In Burlingame, Menlo-Atherton got six goals from Duncan McGinnis during an 11-2 win over the host Panthers (0-7, 3-10). Holden Kardos added two goals for the Bears (4-3, 7-8).
In Mountain View, Palo Alto (5-3, 8-5) fell back in the race following a 16-7 loss to the host Spartans.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn dropped an 18-7 decision to visiting Woodside. Jared Bibo, Elyas Daadi and Aaron Miner all scored twice for Gunn.
Sacred Heart Prep remained atop the WBAL standings with a 20-12 romp over host Mitty on Tuesday. The Gators moved to 5-0 in league and 11-4 overall as sophomores Ally Mayle and Libby Muir scored seven and five goals, respectively. SHP senior Caroline Cummings added four goals while junior Brigid White added two.
The Gators, who dropped a 23-6 nonleague decision to host and state No. 1-ranked Amador Valley on Wednesday night, open the second half of the WBAL season this Friday, looking ahead to a rematch with second-place Menlo School on May 2.
The Knights remained just a game back of the Gators following a 19-6 romp over visiting Castilleja. Menlo improved to 4-1 in league (11-4 overall) as Sophia Donovan, Nikky Price and Indie Varmar all had four goals. Donovan also contributed six assists, grabbed three draws and caused four turnovers. Menlo's defense limited Castilleja to just 11 shots.
Paige Vermeer and Ellie Zales scored twice for the Gators (5-3, 5-3) with goalie Becca Merenbach getting 11 saves.
Also in Atherton, host Menlo-Atherton snapped a four-match losing streak with a 15-7 victory over visiting Burlingame. The Bears (2-3, 5-8-1) jumped out to a 3-1 lead with a goal from Grace Tully, who had two on the day. After a time out, Burlingame scored three straight with Alexa Vasquez scoring the first of her two goals to take the lead 4-3.
M-A came back with two goals, including one from junior Cathrine Petersen, who had two goals and an assist in the game, to retake the lead at halftime, 5-4.
The second half was a different story as M-A shook off its post-Spring Break rust and began to dominate. Junior Amanda Wiseman scored four of her six goals and freshman Izzy Regonini scored three goals and added two assists. The Bears dominated the draw with key ground ball wins by Paige Muschott and strong midfield transition from Kelly Woods.
In the SCVAL, 10 different players scored goals for Palo Alto in a 17-6 victory over visiting Pioneer. The Vikings (6-1 (8-5) easily outplayed Pioneer on both offense and defense, scoring less than a minute into the game and leading 10-4 at the half.
Leading Paly in goals was junior Paige Bara with four while sophomore Maya Benetar led in ground ball controls, with five. Allie Peery contributed three goals, Ami Drez and Benetar each added two goals.
Julia Saul pitched a complete game and Casey Glassford slammed a home run as visiting Palo Alto (2-4, 10-9) upset Milpitas, 7-6, in SCVAL El Camino Division action Tuesday. The Vikings' victory knocked Milpitas out of a share of second place.
In the WBAL Foothill Division, Megan Johnson had three hits and drove in two runs to pace Castilleja to an 11-7 victory over host Harker in eight innings. The Gators (3-1, 4-10) also got two hits from fellow sophomore Abigail Lowell as sophomore Tara Thakurta picked up her second pitching win with a complete-game eight-hitter.
Harker tied the game at 7 with two runs in the bottom of the seventh after Castilleja had taken the lead with five runs in the top of the frame. The Gators put up four more runs in the eighth to win it.
In nonleague action, Menlo-Atherton (11-6) got five RBI from Monika Gutierrez in a 15-0 three-inning romp over visiting Shasta Charter School. Gutierrez had a bases-loaded triple to highlight a six-run second inning. Emily Katz, Sarah Tiemann and Maddie Zamora all drove in a pair of runs.
The Palo Alto boys improved to 5-0 in SCVAL De Anza Division dual meets with a 106-79 win over visiting Los Gatos on Tuesday. The Paly girls, meanwhile, fell to 3-2 following a tough 94-92 loss.
The Paly boys trailed by two points through three events before senior Andrew Liang led a 1-2-4 finish in the 50 free with a winning time of 21.29. That gave the Vikings a 12-4 edge in the event and a 34-28 overall lead.
When Liang came back to win the 100 fly in 51.25, the Vikings held a 56-37 advantage.
In the girls' meet, Paly and Los Gatos were tied at 86 heading into the final 400 free relay and needed a victory (eight points) to win the meet. The Vikings, however, finished second and third for six points.
Menlo School wrapped up its 20th straight league dual-match title with a 7-0 romp over host Priory on Tuesday to close the WBAL regular season. The Knights (12-0, 17-3) improved their ongoing state record win streak to 216-0 in league dual matches while Menlo coach Bill Shine improved to 424-45 in his 18th season with Menlo. Despite not playing his starters in singles, Shine's lineup lost only two games in singles and just six overall.
With the regular-season title in the PAL Bay Division already clinched, the Menlo-Atherton boys continued their unbeaten march through the division with a 7-0 tennis romp over visiting Carlmont on Wednesday. The Bears moved to 13-0 in league (16-4 overall) with only a home match against Woodside remaining on Thursday.
A day earlier, Menlo-Atherton won every match in straight sets as the Bears wrapped up their sixth straight division title with a 7-0 romp over San Mateo.