New coach has Paly baseball off to winning startIt was a homecoming of sorts for Palo Alto's first-year baseball coach Erick Raich, who made a splashy debut in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 16-4 thumping of visiting Saratoga in a season opener Wednesday. Raich finished up a standout prep career at Saratoga High in 2000, helping the Falcons win a CCS title in 1999.
While Raich admitted it felt a little strange to be facing his old team, he was more focused on getting his new club off to a good start.
"The first year (of coaching a new team) is the toughest, with all the expectations," Raich said. "But, we're ahead of schedule."
The Vikings (1-0, 5-2), who will complete their home-and-home series at Saratoga on Friday, have played a tough preseason schedule that included losses to Wilcox and Mitty and victories over Scotts Valley and Monterey — all perennial CCS contenders.
Saratoga certainly didn't measure up with those teams as Paly grabbed a 14-1 lead after just two innings. Joc Pederson had three hits while fellow senior Scott Witte drove in three runs. Conor Raftery, Drake Swezey, Will Glazier and Wade Hauser all had two RBI as Paly pounded out 14 hits.
Menlo School also is off to a solid start (4-1) after dominating St. Ignatius on Tuesday, 9-1, in nonleague action. Jake Batchelder (2-0) threw six innings of one-run ball while while out six. Fellow sophomore Dylan Mayer had two hits and drove in four runs.
The Knights will get one of their top tests of the season on Friday when they visit St. Francis at 6 p.m.
Defending CCS and NorCal champion Menlo looks to be in fine shape to possibly repeat those efforts after two impressive victories this week.
With freshmen Richard Pham and Andrew Ball posting solid wins at No. 1 and 2 singles, the Knights remained perfect with a 7-0 whitewash of host Los Gatos in a nonleague match on Wednesday. Pham posted a 6-4, 6-4 triumph while Ball won easily, 6-3, 6-2. Sophomore Justin Chan blanked his opponent at No. 3 while senior Patrick Chase won at No. 4 in straight sets as the Knights improved to 5-0.
On Tuesday, Menlo perhaps took control of the West Bay Athletic League with a 7-0 romp over visiting Harker, which earlier had beaten Sacred Heart Prep. Menlo will host SHP next Tuesday, with a chance for the Knights to further distance themselves from the rest of the league.
Against Harker, Andrew Ball and Pham won at No. 1 and 2 singles, respectively, for Menlo to set the pace.
While Menlo looks to be a runaway winner in the WBAL, Menlo-Atherton could be that team in the PAL Bay Division
The Bears are off to a 3-0 start in league play following a 5-2 win over host Burlingame on Tuesday. Burlingame is expected to challenge for the league title this season.
M-A rode a sweep of the doubles to its victory. The teams of Zeke Brown-Matt Giordano, Jess and Christian Perkins, plus Matt Menninger and Avi Shah provided key points for the triumph.
Gunn junior Stefan Weidemann (140) made through three rounds before being eliminated from the California State Wrestling Championships held at the Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield last weekend.
Although Weidemann had hoped to place in the top eight and bring home a medal for the Titans, it was not to be. Weidemann won his first match in the Round of 64, but lost in the Round of 32 (by a 21-11 score) and again in his first round in the wrestle-backs (by pin).
"I think there were two Stefans this season." said head coach Chris Horpel. "The one before he hurt his knee in early January and the one after. I think he got close to what he had been before the injury, but being at 70 or 80 percent is not quite enough if one is going to place at state. With a little luck, he will not have to deal with a serious injury next season."
Palo Alto senior Jack Sakai lost both of his matches at 130 pounds and was eliminated on the opening day.