Should Sacred Heart Prep beat visiting Pinewood on Friday and knock off host Crystal Springs on Wednesday — both very likely — then the Gators will host second-place Menlo on May 3 with an opportunity to accomplish something special.
Sacred Heart will have a chance to give head coach Gregg Franceschi his first home win over the Knights and his first-ever regular-season sweep of Menlo. Should the Gators accomplish that, they'll hold a two-game lead with two WBAL games remaining — against Harker and King's Academy.
The ability to beat both those teams showed up Wednesday on two fronts. SHP defeated visiting King's Academy, 8-4, and Menlo routed Harker, 24-2.
Since losing to SHP on April 17 (4-0), Menlo's offense has come alive at the expense of Pinewood and Harker. In those two games, the Knights have combined for 47 runs and 43 hits. That's something Franceschi should be aware of as the two rivals move closer to their showdown.
Menlo School exploded for 18 runs over the last two innings in Wednesday's rout of host Harker. The Knights (4-1, 14-7) were led offensively by junior Joe Farnham, who had three hits and five RBI. He had the key hit of the game, a two-out bases-loaded triple that gave the Menlo a 4-0 in the fourth.
Brock Cozad added a grand slam in the seventh when the Knights scored 10 runs. Menlo finished with three homers (Mikey Diekroeger, Austin Marcus and Cozad) and seven triples as 13 different players got hits.
Chris Atkeson picked up his fifth win of the season as he, Jack Redman and Marcus combined to throw a two-hitter with nine strikeouts.
While Menlo was romping, Sacred Heart was doing its best not to let first place slip away against visiting King's Academy, which chipped away at an early 5-0 deficit and made it a 5-4 game in the top of the sixth.
The Gators, however, rallied for three runs in the bottom of the inning as Hank Robson and Chris Lee each had RBI singles before Mike Covell plated two more with a single, one of 12 hits by the Gators.
The Gators (5-0, 14-7) got six strong innings from senior starter Tyler VauDell while winning their sixth straight. Nick Sinchek and Will Reilly each had a pair of hits and Will Johnston drove in a pair in the fourth.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, a three-way tie for first place is now a two-way deadlock following victories by Palo Alto and Homestead on Wednesday.
The Vikings (10-3, 15-11) kept their share of the lead with a 9-3 win over host Santa Clara while Homestead (10-3, 14-10) did likewise with a 5-4 triumph over visiting Wilcox (9-4, 18-8).
Austin Poore had two hits and drove in two runs to pace Paly to its crucial victory while Rohit Ramkumar improved to 8-2 with a complete-game six-hitter that ended a three-game losing streak.
Palo Alto will host Santa Clara on Friday to complete the regular season while Wilcox hosts Homestead. Should the Chargers defeat the Mustangs and Paly wins again, the Vikings will capture the division's regular-season title.
In Half Moon Bay, Menlo-Atherton started quickly by scoring two runs on three hits in the top of the first inning. Unfortunately for the Bears, they managed only two hits the rest of the way en route to a 10-2 defeat. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for M-A, dropping the Bears to 14-8 overall and 4-5 in PAL Bay Division play. Half Moon Bay improved to 14-8 and 4-5.
Menlo School won its sixth straight and improved to 7-0 in the WBAL (Foothill Division) with an 18-11 victory over visiting Castilleja on Tuesday. The Knights moved to 9-6 overall while winning their 45th straight league match since joining the WBAL for the 2009 season. Menlo also is riding a 57-match league win streak since last losing a league match, to Menlo-Atherton in 2007.
Menlo out-shot Castilleja, 40-18, with freshman Parvathi Narayan tallying five goals. Ali Kim and Kira Sze each had three goals and three assists while Brooke Bullington added three goals plus two assists (she didn't play in the second half) and Sam Hoag had three goals and one assist. Kim had 10 outright draw controls.
Castilleja fell to 3-4 in league (5-4 overall) despite getting a career-high eight goals from senior captain Katherine Hobbs. Lou Biffar, Ellie Zales and Charlotte Jones each scored once for the Gators. Goalie Becca Merenbach had 10 saves.
In San Francisco, Sacred Heart Prep got three goals each from Caroline Cummings, Libby Muir, Ally Mayle and Brigid White in a 15-2 victory over host Sacred Heart Cathedral at Crocker-Amazon Park. The Gators improved to 6-1 in league (14-1 overall) and remained just a game back of first-place Menlo.
SHP will host Menlo in another showdown for first on Thursday (May 2) at 4 p.m.
In Atherton, host Menlo-Atherton used a 10-0 run to blow open a close match and roll to a 20-9 victory over visiting Burlingame. Meredith Geaghen-Breiner scored four times during the run while finishing with five goals. M-A, however, was led by senior Emily Carlson career-high 11 goals. She also assisted on two others while consistently winning the draw. The Bears (2-5, 4-10-1) cruised to a 14-5 halftime lead against the Panthers (3-4, 3-10).
In the SCVAL, Palo Alto High removed another roadblock in its way of a possible perfect league season with a 9-5 victory over host Gunn in girls' lacrosse action Tuesday night. The Vikings improved to 11-0 in league (13-2 overall). Paly held just a 4-3 halftime lead, which disappeared when Gunn scored twice to open the second half and take a 5-4 lead.
Palo Alto then stepped up its aggressive play at both ends of the field as the Titans were held scoreless the remainder of the night. Senior co-captains Charlotte Biffar and Nina Kelty each scored twice, as did junior Kristen DeStefano. Kelty added four assists while Annemarie Drez, Simone Buteau and Paige Bara all scored once for Paly. Gunn junior Victoria Nguyen tallied three goals to lead the Titans (8-3, 10-4-2).
Sacred Heart Prep remained just a game back of first-place Menlo-Atherton in the SCVAL following a 15-7 victory over host Mountain View on Wednesday. Andrew Eifert scored six goals on seven shots to lead the Gators (9-2, 11-8) while freshman Andrew Daschbach added three goals.
Junior Frankie Hattler had 10 points, with eight assists and two goals, while Ryan Morrison finished with two goals and two assists. Austin Appleton returned from a recent injury and finished with nine saves in goal.
Elsewhere, Palo Alto improved its playoff status in the SCVAL with a 13-6 victory over host Menlo School on Wednesday. The Vikings improved to 6-4 in league (11-5 overall). Paly also beat Los Gatos on Monday, 15-10.
In a wild game filled with 34 runs, 26 hits and eight errors, visiting Gunn prevailed in a 23-11 victory over Fremont in a SCVAL El Camino Division game Wednesday.
The Titans (6-3, 10-10) got out to an early lead in the first inning with five runs. By the end of the second inning it looked like as easy win for Gunn with an 8-2 lead. But, the Firebirds came up with seven runs and seven hits in the fifth inning to grab an 11-9 lead. The Titans bounced back with seven runs in the sixth and seven more in the seventh to cruise to victory. Iris Chin had three hits for Gunn.
The Sacred Heart Prep boys and girls put the finishing touches on unbeaten dual-meet seasons in the WBAL by sweeping visiting King's Academy during Senior Day on Wednesday. The girls won, 110-60, and the boys prevailed, 116-52.
SHP juniors Selby Sturzenegger (100 free, 200 free) and Ally Howe (200 IM, 100 back) were both double winners in addition to swimming legs on the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.
In the boys' meet, Chris Hinrichs produced a solid 49.70 victory in the 100 free and senior Scott Jollymour surprised the 200 field with a 1:51.10 win. He also swam legs on the winning 200 free and 400 free relays.
SHP will host the WBAL trials on Wednesday and the finals on Thursday.
Track and field
The regular season in the WBAL came to an end Wednesday with host Sacred Heart Prep sweeping the boys' and girls' meets. The event was primarily for athletes who had not had a chance to participate in earlier meets.
As the host team, SHP was able to have some of their top athletes compete. Senior Nico Robinson took advantage of the opportunity and ripped off a fine 14.88 to win the 110 high hurdles. He also won the 200 (23.36), leaped 21-2 to win the long jump and ran a leg on the Gators' 400 relay that clocked a winning time of 44.37.
SHP's Gillian Belton won the 1,600 and 800.