Both teams reached Central Coast Section championship games last season, with Menlo winning in Division III and Palo Alto losing in Division II. This season, the squads have the best records of any local teams — Menlo is 17-4 while Paly is 18-7.
Palo Alto comes in averaging 6.3 runs and 8.7 hits per game and hitting .335 as a team while Menlo is averaging 8.0 runs and 9.3 hits with a .343 team batting average. Both teams have lost to St. Francis but beaten Mountain View, as far as common opponents go.
The teams also have something else in common — Freddy Avis. The Menlo junior spent his freshman year on the Paly roster and the Vikings certainly wouldn't mind having him back, especially given his success this season.
Avis pretty much did it all as he pitched a complete-game six-hitter, struck out 11 and allowed only two earned runs in a 5-3 nonleague baseball victory over host St. Ignatius on Wednesday. Avis also hit his second home run of the season in addition to ripping a double.
Avis led off the second with a solo shot off the scoreboard at Marchbanks Park in San Francisco to give the Knight's a lead they would not relinquish. Menlo added a solo run in the third on a sacrifice fly by freshman Mikey Diekroeger and then tallied three more in the fourth on RBI singles by junior Jake Batchelder and senior Robert Wickers plus a sacrifice fly by sophomore Austin Marcus, who was also stellar on defense again behind the plate as he threw out two of three Wildcats who attempted to steal.
Avis ended up striking out the side in the seventh after an error and a walk put the tying run on base. Menlo returns to action on Friday with a West Bay Athletic League road game against Crystal Springs at Sea Cloud Park in Foster City, before hosting Paly.
In a WBAL game Tuesday, Jake Bruml took care of business with his bat and arm while leading Menlo to a 16-4 romp over Pinewood. Bruml took over the CCS lead in RBI as he knocked in four runs. He hit his sixth home run of the season (tying the CCS best) and added a double to Menlo's 13-hit attack while driving in four runs.
On the mound, Bruml tossed four shutout innings while recording his sixth victory of the season while the Knights improved to 4-1 in league. Bruml struck out five and allowed just three hits.
Tim Benton had four hits for Menlo, including a home run, while Avis also homered (his first this season) and drove in four runs with Benton finishing with three. Kamyaar Butt hit his first career homer for Menlo.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (10-3, 18-7) won its seventh straight as it got three hits and three RBI from senior T.J. Braff in a 9-3 victory over host Saratoga on Wednesday. Junior Austin Braff added two hits to the Vikings' 11-hit attack, which included six doubles — two each by the Braff brothers.
Junior Ben Sneider picked up the victory with five innings of four-hit work. His earned-run average is now .420. The Vikings will close out the regular season on Friday by hosting Saratoga at 3:30 p.m.
Palo Alto is tied for second place with Homestead, which knocked Los Altos into third place on Wednesday. Should the Vikings and Mustangs win on Friday, they'll face each other in the league playoffs that begin next week.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton lost all the momentum it had from winning the Rancho Cordova Easter Classic last week by dropping an 8-5 decision to host Hillsdale in a PAL Bay Division contest on Wednesday. M-A pitchers gave up 12 walks as the Bears fell to 4-5 in league (14-8 overall).
In contrast, Hillsdale relief pitcher Michael Sweeney baffled the Bears over the final four innings after they had scored five runs in the third to take a 5-1 lead. Kyle Zirbes had two doubles and finished with three hits to pace M-A, which got two hits from Cam Winn while out-hitting the Knights, 8-7.
In the third, M-A put together four hits and two sacrifice flys to score five times. The Knights answered back with seven runs in the fourth as three different M-A pitchers who gave up four hits, a sacrifice bunt, two hit batters, and three walks.
The Bears will host Hillsdale on Friday at 3:15 p.m.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, host Gunn gave up 14 hits to first-place Santa Clara and dropped a 12-1 decision. Ryan Gorman had two hits, one a double, to pace the Titans (4-6, 7-9-1).
Menlo-Atherton remained tied for first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with Mountain View following an 11-6 victory over visiting Los Gatos on Wednesday. The Bears improved to 7-2 in league (11-4 overall) as John Athens and Kotaro Kihira scored three goals apiece. Pierce Osgood contributed three assists while Jordan Zuk added two goals and one assist with Sam Hausman winning 12 of 19 faceoffs.
On Tuesday, Menlo School sophomores Wiley Osborne and Nick Schultz proved too much for Palo Alto's seasoned defense as the Knights stretched out a 6-2 first-half lead for a key 9-6 league win.
Menlo avenged a defeat earlier this season to the Vikings and improved to 7-3 in SCVAL De Anza Division (12-7 overall) while Paly dropped to 5-4 in league (10-5 overall).
Osborne scored three goals, Schultz four, and both attackman had a pair of assists. Menlo scoring was rounded out by juniors Ryan Grzejka and Pete Foster, who tallied a goal apiece.
Although Paly scored within seconds of the opening face-off, Menlo came back with five unanswered goals to take command of the game. Palo Alto won the face-off battle (Viking John Brunett was 11 of 13 for the day), but the offense kept turning over the ball, giving the Knights too many offensive opportunities. Brunett ended up with a goal and two assists for Palo Alto, while Kevin Proceviat notched two, and Zach Spain, Walker Mees, and Cory Valenti got one apiece.
Elyse Adler and Michaela Michaela each scored five goals to pace the Menlo School to a 20-9 victory over host Burlingame in Wednesday in a rematch of last season's WBAL playoff championship match won by the Knights. Adler set the tone with two goals within the first minute of play as Menlo (5-0, 13-6) remained atop the WBAL standings.
Brooke Bullington, Michael and Ali Kim each added goals and Adler tallied a third before the first five minutes of play had expired. The score ballooned to 8-0 off goals from Michael and Savannah McKinnon before the Panthers found the back of the net with a goal from junior Charlotte Pratt.
The Knights continued their relentless offensive and by the half the score was 13-4. The second half played out much the same way with aggressive play up and down the field by the Knights. Michael added three goals, Adler had two and Kim and Bullington each contributed one. Bullington added two assists while Kim had five. Menlo goalies Julia Dressel and Hannah Rubin shared goal-tending duties for the contest with each making three saves.
The five goals and six total points by Michael pushed her past the 100-point mark for the season. She has 84 goals and 24 assists and is ranked as the No. 4 score in the state and No. 6 in the nation, according to MaxPreps.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto's season continued to gain momentum as the Vikings pulled away in the second half for a 13-8 victory over host Los Gatos on Tuesday night.
Tied at 5 at halftime, the Wildcats (5-3, 7-5) won the draw and scored a quick breakaway goal in the first 30 seconds. The Vikings (7-1, 8-7) then scored eight unanswered goals with the final one coming withy 1:30 left to play. Los Gatos tacked on two meaningless goals with less than a minute to play. Charlotte Biffar paced Paly with four goals while Leigh Dairaghi added three.
In nonleague action, senior Kendall Cody poured in six goals and added four assists for a season-high 10 points as Sacred Heart Prep rolled to a 17-12 victory over host Leland on Tuesday. Freshman Caroline Cummings added five goals and three assists for SHP while senior Julia Keller contributed three goals and three assists as the Gators improved to 13-5. Goalie Emily Westerfield had 12 saves for SHP.
On Monday, Menlo School jumped out to a 5-0 lead in just over five minutes of play and pulled away for a 21-9 victory over visiting Castilleja in a WBAL match. Michael scored eight goals while Adler and Bullington scored three each.
Menlo was coming off a 1-2 effort during a trip to Orlando, Fla., during last week's spring break. The Knights opened with an 18-17 double-overtime victory over WT Woodson (Fairfax, Va.), before dropping an 18-15 decision to Cherry Hill East (N.J.). In the final match, Menlo fell to Great Valley (Malvern, Pa.), 20-11.
Michael and Ali Kim scored four goals each against WT Woodson while Adler scored the game-winner in sudden victory OT off an assist by Savannah McKinnon. Menlo also beat WT Woodson in 2009, 21-20, in triple overtime.
In the loss to Cherry Hill, Menlo found itself trailing by 5-0 with 18:48 left in the first half. The Knights rallied in the second half as Michael scored six goals and Sophie Sheeline added three, as did Adler.
In the loss to Great Valley, Menlo was outscored by 8-1 in the first 5:09 of the first half and trailed, 17-6, in the second half. This was the second meeting between the schools, with Great Valley winning in 2009 by the same score, 20-11.
With sophomore Claire Klausner striking out 11 and limiting host Saratoga to just two hits, the Gunn softball raced to a 10-0 victory in a SCVAL El Camino Division game on Wednesday. The Titans improved to 6-2 in league (13-9 overall) but still trail Monta Vista in the division standings.
Gunn scored early in the first with a base hit by Klausner, who stole second and scored on a single by Laura Kidder. The second run of the inning was scored by Kidder on an RBI single by Casey Maltz. Gunn's defense got out of trouble in the second after the Falcons had runners on second and third with one out. Kidder, however, pulled off a double play to get the Titans out of the inning.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Mandi Shore rapped out two hits and drove in four runs to pace Castilleja to an 11-1 victory over visiting Mercy-Burlingame on Wednesday. The Gators (6-2 league) scored four runs in the first and second innings before closing out the game with a 10-run rule.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto ended a recent losing streak as freshman pitcher Julia Saul tossed a four-hitter to pace the Vikings to a 3-0 victory over visiting Fremont on Tuesday. Senior Anna Gale and freshman Hannah Bundy each had a pair of hits for the Vikings (3-4, 6-12) as Fremont fell to 1-6 in league (5-12 overall).
On Monday, Menlo-Atherton certainly wasn't rusty from a week off for spring break as the Bears blasted their way to an 18-7 nonleague triumph over visiting Mt. Eden (Hayward).
Lauren Diller had five hits, including a double and triple, and drove in five runs to lead M-A's 18-hit attack. Erin LaPorte contributed three hits and four RBI while Jackie Gonzalez blasted a home run among her two hits and drove in a pair as Monica Vasquez earned her second win of the season as she tossed a two-hitter for the Bears, who improved to 8-5 following the five-inning game shortened by the 10-run mercy rule.
Andrew Carlisle and JT Nishimura of Menlo School defeated teammates Mac Osborne and Michael Hoffman, 6-2, 6-2, to win the WBAL doubles title on Wednesday on the Knights' courts.
In the singles final, Sacred Heart Prep's Nick Pizzuti dropped a 6-1, 6-0 decision while Zack Chase of Menlo finished third.
Boys' track and field
Sacred Heart Prep got four individual victories from Nico Robinson and some solid distance efforts on the way to capturing the fourth WBAL meet of the season on Wednesday on the Gators' track. SHP scored 195 points with Crystal Springs second with 121.
Robinson won the 110 high hurdles in 16.14, took the 300 intermediate hurdles in 43.55, won the long jump with a leap of 19-8 3/4 and took the high jump at 5-4 on fewer misses as Pinewood's Bradley Naumann also cleared 5-4.
The Gators swept the top three spots in the 800 with Sach Watterson leading the way in 2:03.58. Zach Kaplan won the 3200 in 10:26.82 as the Gators took three of the top four spots and Leo Kolomatahgi won the shot put (42-5) and discus (134-8) to help wrap up the victory.
Girls' track and field
With Holly McDonald winning four individual events and Maggie Fong winning the 100 and 200, Sacred Heart Prep scored 167 points and easily won the fourth WBAL meet of the season on Wednesday at the Gators' track.
McDonald won the 100 hurdles, took the long jump, captured the triple jump (32-6 1/2) and cleared 4-6 to win the high jump to pace SHP. Fong clocked 12.86 in the 100 and 26.54 in the 200.
Priory junior Kat Gregory was another double-winner as she took the 1600 (5:28.23) and 3200 (11:36.87).