Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 4, 2014

It takes two to capture Palo Alto Babe Ruth city title

by Andrew Preimesberger

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.

After winning their first two games, The Oaks needed only to win the opening game Monday. Ada's Cafe, however, had other ideas and forced a challenge game with a 15-6 victory.

Ada's Cafe, however, wasn't able to duplicate that feat in the second game of the doubleheader and The Oaks prevailed, 8-3, to claim the city title.

"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 opened Wednesday against Bel-Mateo at McKelvey Park in Mountain View. The winner advanced to Thursday's winners' bracket at 6:30 p.m., while the loser plays Friday at 1 p.m. The championship game is set for Saturday at 4 p.m., with a challenge game (if necessary) following at 6:30 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 opened District 6 action Wednesday, facing Mountain View at the Belmont Sports Complex. The winner will play Thursday at 7 p.m., with the loser playing Friday at 10 a.m. The finals will be Saturday at noon, with a challenge game (if necessary) set for 5 p.m.

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. A consolation final will be Monday at 7 p.m., with the winner moving on to the championship game on Wednesday, July 9 at 5:30 p.m. A challenge game, if necessary, will be played at 8 p.m.

Semipro

The streak is over for the Palo Alto Oaks semipro baseball team, which saw its nine-game win streak end in the second game of a doubleheader with Fontanetti's on Sunday at Sarge Casey field at Baylands Athletic Center. The Oaks took the opening game, 3-1, before Fontanetti's won the second game, 2-1, on a walk-off single by pitcher and player-coach Derek Luque.

Emerging staff ace Ricky Navarro started and claimed the victory in Game 1, throwing seven strong innings while yielding only one unearned run on six hits and two walks. Gilbert Guerra finished the final two innings, allowing no runs or hits.

The Oaks' lineup had a different look this week due to the loss of one player and the acquisition of another.

Outfielder Sheldon Daquioag accepted an invitation to pursue his major league dreams by joining a Canadian Collegiate Summer League team, while former Menlo School standout and Stanford sophomore Freddy Avis joined the Oaks.

Avis is recovering from a redshirt season after a pitching-related shoulder injury in his freshman year at Stanford, so he will be filling the outfield vacancy left by Daquioag.

Avis made a quick impression by tripling in his first at-bat as an Oak. He scored on a double by first baseman Graham Fisher, who then scored on a single by shortstop Sam Wilkins. The Oaks scored an insurance run in the seventh inning, providing Navarro and Guerra all the offense they needed.

Game 2 was another low-scoring affair with Oaks veteran Brant Norlander taking the mound for his first start of the year. The Temple alum threw 4 2/3 innings, yielding just one unearned run and one hit while striking out five.

The Oaks scored their only run of the game when a bases- loaded walk of catcher Gary Ellis drove in Chase Spivey, who had a 2-for2 game at the plate, in addition to a walk.

Fontanetti's took advantage of a walk and an error in the final seventh inning, when Luque singled in the winning run to end the game and claim the pitching win for himself.

The Oaks (9-1) will return to action this Sunday at Baylands with another doubleheader scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. start.

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