Menlo has plenty to shoot
for in CCS tennis playoffs
After defeating its top two competitors — Saratoga and Bellarmine — twice this season, it would seem that the Menlo School boys' tennis team has little to play for as it heads into the Central Coast Section team tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Actually, there's plenty. Menlo was won nine section titles and is tied with Gunn for the most in CCS history.
Should Menlo sweep through its four playoff matches unscathed, the Knights will make some history.
Something else out there for coach Bill Shine and his players is a double three-peat. During Shine's 14 years at Menlo, the Knights have never won CCS and NorCal titles three years in a row. They can accomplish that for the first time this season.
Menlo won CCS and NorCal crowns back-to-back twice, in 1999-00 and again from 2002-03. The 2001 did not win NorCals and the '04 squad failed to reach NorCals after losing in the CCS finals.
Menlo also has a chance to compile the best three-year record in school history by finishing with CCS and NorCal titles. Currently 21-1, Menlo can finish 28-1 for a three-year mark of 82-3. No previous squad has ever done that.
Menlo will open its second season on Friday (3 p.m.) against Monterey (18-4), a 5-2 first-round winner over Santa Cruz on Wednesday.
The next steps for Menlo-Atherton and Gunn will be more difficult after both opened the tourney with solid victories on Wednesday.
The Bears (17-2) quickly eliminated visiting Silver Creek, 7-0, while the Titans (12-8) were nearly just as perfect with a 6-1 win over host St. Francis at Cuesta Park in Mountain View.
Next up for Menlo-Atherton will be fourth-seeded Leland (16-5) on Friday in San Jose while Gunn draws No. 2 seed and host Saratoga (16-5). Both second-round matches are at 3 p.m.
Palo Alto (13-10), meanwhile, saw its season end in a 6-1 loss to visiting Serra.
Menlo-Atherton may face its toughest opponent since the Bears lost to Los Altos (seeded No. 8 in CCS) at the Central California Classic in Fresno in early March. Since then, the Bears have pretty much breezed through a 14-0 season in the PAL Bay Division and lost only one time, to Gunn in a nonleague match.
M-A has been highly successful with a young team that features freshman Scott Morris at No. 1 singles, sophomore Richie Sarwall at No. 2, freshman Nick Fratt at No. 3 and junior Matt Giordano at No. 4. All four won in straight sets against Silver Creek.
The Bears have only two seniors starters — Daniel Windham and Cam Kelley.
Should M-A get past Leland, the Bears likely will visit No. 5 Monta Vista in a quarterfinal on Monday in Cupertino. After that would be a semifinal date with Menlo School next Wednesday at Courtside Club in Los Gatos. The section final is May 13, also at Courtside, at 2 p.m.
M-A's chances of advancing past Friday's second round appear better than Gunn's, which lost twice to Saratoga during the SCVAL De Anza Division season.
Against St. Francis, Gunn won all of its matches in straight sets. Jinyan Jing, Roy Peleg and Adam Zorin lost only a combined 13 games in singles while the tandems of Joe Atlas-Jack Kwan, Kevin Macario-Thomas George and Arjun Narayen-Ameya Rao lost only 12 combined.
Palo Alto loses four seniors who played against Serra on Wednesday, but will return a solid group. The Vikings had two freshmen — Austin Leung and Blake Smith — playing at No. 1 and 2 singles. If Paly coach Andy Harader gets junior Nicky Hu back next season (Hu missed all but three matches this season while concentrating on raising in NCTA ranking), the Vikings' chances of getting past the opening round will be greatly enhanced.
Like Paly, Sacred Heart Prep (11-9) was overpowered in its 6-1 season-ending loss to visiting St. Ignatius.
Following up a 14-2 victory over visiting Fremont in SCVAL El Camino Division action on Tuesday, Gunn defeated visiting Scotts Valley, 8-4, in nonleague Wednesday. The Titans are now 6-6 in league and 10-10-1 overall.
The warm weather must agree with the Titan hitters, as they have improved their team average from .259 to .276 in the past two games Tuesday and Wednesday. They have scored 22 runs and pounded out 23 hits.
Junior Graham Fisher led the offense Wednesday, going 4-for-4, with a double and five RBI. His two-day total saw him go 8-for-8, with nine RBI and two runs scored. Senior Jack Hannan added another seemingly routine day, going 2-for-3, with a double, three RBI and two runs scored.
On the mound, Fisher started and got the win while evening his record at 2-2. He pitched 5 1/3 innings while allowing four hits.
Senior Miles Sturken got the start Tuesday against Fremont, and evened his record at 2-2 while allowing one run on two hits over five innings.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Sacred Heart Prep maintained its one-game lead over Menlo School with a 13-4 romp over host Crystal Springs at Sea Cloud Park in Foster City on Wednesday. The Gators (7-0, 14-10) got home runs from Tomas O'Donnell and Cal Baloff with Matt Martella ripping three hits and driving in three runs. O'Donnell led the way with four RBI. SHP will host King's Academy on Friday before visiting Menlo in a showdown for first place on Wednesday.
In another WBAL game, Freddy Avis got four hits and drove in five runs as Menlo School moved to within a victory of clinching its 23rd Central Coast Section berth in the past 24 years following a 16-2 triumph over visiting Pinewood.
Jake Batchelder allowed only one run on three hits in six innings of work. Dylan Mayer and Jake Bruml each drove in three runs and had two hits each for the Knights, who can clinch another CCS berth on Friday by beating host Harker.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton lost a chance to move up in the standings by dropping a 2-1 decision to visiting Terra Nova in eight innings on Wednesday. The Bears (5-5, 15-9) and Tigers (5-5, 12-9-1) will play again Friday in Pacifica.
The setback ruined a good pitching performance by Nick Lange, who tossed seven innings of four-hit ball with six strikeouts. His teammates, however, managed only six hits and only seven batters reached base.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs on Tuesday:
Jack Witte singled home Will Glazier in the bottom of the fifth, capping a three-run rally that gave Palo Alto a 4-3 victory over Los Altos in the first game of a best-of-three series. Palo Alto (21-7) visited Los Altos (16-10) in Game 2 of the series on Thursday at 3:30 p.m., with a victory sending the Vikings into next week's playoff finals. Wilcox beat Homestead, 7-2, to open that series.
Witte had three of Paly's six hits with B.J. Boyd adding two. T.J. Braff, Glazier, Witte and Drake Swezey all drove in runs in support of Ben Sneider's complete-game eight-hitter. He struck out six and walked just one. Sneider's earned-run average is now a team-leading 0.66 with only seven earned runs allowed in 74 1/3 innings.
On Monday, Hogan Bradford gave Sacred Heart Prep a good start to the week by tossing a complete-game no-hitter while leading the Gators to a 4-0 nonleague victory over visiting Hillsdale. The game previously was rained out on March 19.
Bradford wasn't expected to pitch the entire game, but had a no-hitter and a 4-0 lead after three innings and kept taking the mound. He walked three, hit one batter and struck out five.
A handful of Gunn and Palo Alto players are headed to next week's Central Coast Section regionals in Carmel Valley following the conclusion of the SCVAL team and individual championships.
On Monday at Coyote Creek Golf Club in San Jose, Gunn and Palo Alto both shot 409 in the team competition to tie for second. Saratoga won the team title with a score of 400. Gunn earned the league's second automatic bid to CCS by virtue of a tiebreaker. Paly also may qualify for CCS as an at-large team, which will be decided Thursday.
Anson Cheng led Gunn with a 78 while Avinash Sharma shot 81 and Vincent Yang an 82. Michael Yuan led Paly with a 78 while Sam Niethammer shot 79 and Grant Raffel an 81.
In the individual competition that started Monday at Coyote and concluded Tuesday at San Juan Oaks in Hollister, Sharma of Gunn and Raffel of Palo Alto tied for third with 36-hole scores of 154 after both shot 73 in their second rounds.
Raffel and teammates Yuan (159) and Niethammer (160) were among the seven SCVAL players who qualified for CCS as individuals.
On Monday, Sacred Heart Prep earned the league's second berth for Central Coast Section regional play by posting a score of 391 during the WBAL Championships at Menlo Country Club.
Regular-season champ Menlo won the team crown with a 378 score, but the Knights already had clinched a CCS berth. Sacred Heart needed to finish second to the Knights in order to advance. Harker was third with 426 while Pinewood (456) was fourth.
Harker's Maverick McNealy, a Portola Valley resident, and Colton Bares of Pinewood qualified for CCS as individuals as both shot 75.
Menlo senior Patrick Grimes won individual honors with a 1-under-par 69. Teammates Andrew Buchanan (72) and Bobby Pender (74) followed Grimes at the top of the leaderboard. All three led the league in scoring average (in that position) during the round-robin season.
Sacred Heart Prep will play in a CCS regional on May 10 while Menlo will compete on May 11, both at Rancho Canada West Golf Course in Carmel Valley.
At the PAL Individual Championships that wrapped up Wednesday on the Old Course at Half Moon Bay Golf Links, Menlo-Atherton's Travis Anderson finished with a 36-hole scored of 158 after already earning a CCS berth with the M-A team last week.
Amy Yamamura pitched a two-hitter and helped herself with three hits and three RBI as Castilleja romped to a 17-1 nonleague victory over host Gunderson on Tuesday in a game shortened to five innings by the 10-run mercy rule. Tobi Amos added two hits and Mandi Shore contributed two hits and drove in a run as the Gators improved to 9-11.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Erin LaPorte pitched a complete-game three-hitter and helped herself with a triple and two RBI as Menlo-Atherton handed host South San Francisco a 16-7 on Wednesday. Katie Vallarino had three hits and three RBI for the Bears (4-3, 10-7) while Lauren Diller had three hits, drove in two runs and scored four. Alexis Guitron contributed to M-A's 14-hit attack with three singles in addition to driving in three runs.
On Tuesday, Menlo-Atherton rolled to a 14-4 victory over host El Camino as Vallarino won her fourth game with a five-hitter and helped herself by getting two hits and driving in three runs.
Nicole Hernandez led the 13-hit parade with three hits and two RBI while LaPorte added two hits and two RBI. Diller had two hits, one a triple, and Guitron had three RBI and Monica Vasquez had two for the Bears.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto dropped a 6-4 decision to visiting Wilcox (5-4, 8-16) on Tuesday. Maya Padilla had three hits for the Vikings (4-5, 7-15) while Gracie Marshall added two hits and drove in two runs. Hannah Bundy also had two hits for the Vikings.
Homestead (9-0) continues to lead the league after handing second-place Los Gatos (8-2) a 12-4 loss on Tuesday. The Vikings are in fourth, but could have passed third-place Wilcox by beating the Chargers.
In the WBAL, Menlo School (5-3, 6-3) dropped a 2-1 decision in eight innings to host Harker (6-2), which moved ahead of the Knights in the league standings.
Track and field
Menlo-Atherton senior Stas DellaMorte won the long jump with a leap of 21 feet, 3 inches into a slight headwind on Wednesday to pace the Bears on the first day of the PAL Championships at College of San Mateo.
M-A freshman Naomi Tovar was second in the girls' long jump at 14-9 1/4. The final day of the meet will be May 11, also at CSM.