season alive for now
Schoof has at least one more game to coach following Knights'
stunning game-ending play to beat Capuchino, 2-1
by Andrew Preimesberg and Ari Kaye
Craig Schoof knows his days as Menlo School's baseball coach are numbered. In fact, the Knights' next loss will bring an end to Schoof's highly successful career as he has announced his retirement following the conclusion of this season.
That day appeared to have arrived on Wednesday after host Capuchino loaded the bases with no outs while threatening to erase Menlo's tenuous 2-1 lead in an opening-round game of the Central Coast Section Division II playoffs.
But, Schoof will coach another day, thanks to an incredible triple play by Menlo senior shortstop Mikey Diekroeger.
"In all my years at Menlo we've never had a triple play," said Schoof. "And then to end the CCS game, it's amazing."
With no outs and the bases loaded for the Mustangs in the bottom of the seventh, Capuchino senior Kyle Patterson hit a low line drive to the left of Diekroeger, who dived and caught the ball, stepped on second base, and then threw out the player retreating to first to complete the stunning triple play as Menlo first baseman Rylan Pade made a good play on Diekroeger's one-hopper.
After having to wait while Capuchino protested that Diekroeger had trapped the ball, the Knights finally were able to celebrate.
"In baseball you never know," said Menlo starting pitcher Wyatt Driscoll. "You're always one pitch away. We had a guy that was in the right place at the right time and they hit the perfect ball and it turned into a triple play — that's all you can ask for."
The No. 12-seeded Knights improved to 18-12 while the fifth-seeded Mustangs finished their season at 22-9. Menlo will take on No. 4 seed Santa Cruz (14-10) on Saturday in the quarterfinals. Menlo and Santa Cruz last met in CCS action in the 2011 title game, won by the Knights.
"Our assistant coaches said this was going to be a 2-1 or 3-2 type of ballgame," said Schoof. "We know they have great pitching. We know last week's aberration (a 14-1 Menlo win), them using their (No.) 3 and 4 guys (pitchers). We had Wyatt and we swung the bats well and the wind was blowing."
Menlo grabbed a 1-0 lead when Menlo junior Macklan Badger led off the third inning with a walk then advanced to second on a bunt. Diekroeger then hit a ground ball to shortstop, but the throw got past the first basemen and Badger scored from second base.
Mustangs sophomore Dylan Arsenault led off the bottom of the third with a base hit to right field. Arsenault stole second base then advanced to third on a bunt. Patterson grounded out to short stop, scoring Arsenault from third, making it a 1-1 game.
Menlo sophomore Jared Lucian came up huge in the top of the sixth when he smashed a double to left-center field, scoring Diekroeger — who also had doubled — from second base and giving Menlo the 2-1 edge.
Driscoll threw seven complete innings and gave up just one run.
In San Jose, No. 9 Sacred Heart Prep saw its season end in a 7-6 loss to No. 8 and host Branham in another Division II opener.
Andrew Daschbach slammed a two-run homer in the top of the seventh for the Gators (15-14), bringing them to within 7-6. SHP, however, couldn't push across the tying run.
Kyle Johnson led SHP with three hits while Will Johnston, Daschbach and Cole March all had two as the Gators out-hit Branham, 11-9. Branham, however, grabbed a 5-0 lead after two innings, forcing the Gators to play catch-up.
In the Open Division, No. 9-seeded Palo Alto let a 4-2 lead get away and dropped an 8-4 first-round decision to No. 8 Leland (20-9). Paly senior Noah Phillips had three hits, including a double, but the Vikings (16-15) were out-hit, 13-6, and committed three errors.
Going to the CCS playoffs for the first time since 2010, the Gunn players had to be excited by the opportunity to compete in a playoff softball game on their home field.
It turns out the Titans might have been a little over-amped for their Division I opening-round contest, as they allowed a season-high number of runs in their 14-6 loss to Homestead on Wednesday.
"All the hype and pressure built up, and we were not making the routine plays we would normally make," Gunn head coach Matt Maltz said. "I think they were a little nervous about playing. Not one single player on this team had been to CCS before."
The jitters might have contributed to a sloppy overall game from the sixth-seeded Titans, as they committed three errors in the field, and had four girls run into outs on the basepaths.
"I think one of the things that got to our team today was a lack of experience," Maltz said. "Hopefully they've shaken some of this out of their system, and in next year's playoffs we'll do better."
Starting pitcher Iris Chin was charged with 10 earned runs in her seven innings of work for the Titans. The normally reliable junior ended up walking six batters in the game and allowing 14 hits.
"We've rode Iris' arm the entire season," Maltz said. "So maybe the combination of her being physically tired and the mental aspect of it being the first time in CCS contributed to (her performance)."
Gunn was led by sophomore Anna Tevanian, who accumulated three hits, including a game-tying RBI double in the third inning. Sophomore Emma Wager, Gunn's leading hitter, had an off day at the plate, going 0-4 with two strikeouts.
The No. 11-seeded Mustangs (15-13) from the SCVAL De Anza Division were able to overcome their own set of blunders in the field, as they compensated for their five errors with a collection of outstanding at-bats.
"I wasn't surprised by Homestead's offense," Maltz said of the Mustangs, who will face No. 3-seeded San Benito in the second round of CCS. "I probably didn't expect quite as many (runs) though. I thought it would be a tighter game."
Facing an early 5-2 deficit, Gunn rallied to tie the score in the bottom of the third inning. Sophomore Katie Garvey and Tevanian each delivered RBI hits to spark the Titans' rally. That momentum, however, did not last long as Homestead sent 12 batters to the plate and scored eight runs in the top of the fourth to break the game wide open.
By virtue of winning the SCVAL El Camino Division championship this season, Gunn secured a spot in the De Anza Division — meaning next year the Titans will have league games against Homestead and a bevy of other strong programs.
In a CCS Division III opener, 13th-seeded Castilleja was knocked out by host and No. 4-seeded Half Moon Bay, 12-2, in six innings. The Gators (11-14) managed just three hits and committed two hits and committed three errors.