Two Palo Alto Babe Ruth teams are facing very different paths to possible titles this weekend in District 6 All-Star Tournament action.
The Palo Alto 13s have a clear road to a championship, following their 16-3 rout of San Mateo on Thursday at McKelvey Park in Mountain View. Palo Alto will play either Belmont or San Mateo for the district title on Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Palo Alto 15s, however, need to win three straight to claim their district crown. Palo Alto fell into the consolation bracket following a 4-3 loss to San Mateo on Thursday at Baylands Athletic Center.
The Palo Alto 15s play Belmont tonight at 7 p.m. at Baylands, with the winner facing San Mateo on Saturday at 1 p.m. San Mateo has to be beaten twice to lose the title. The challenge game Saturday will be at 4 p.m.
Palo Alto could have been sitting in San Mateo's seat on Saturday. But, with the game tied at 3 and the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the seventh, San Mateo was in great shape.
Nick Sanzeri, who had doubled in the previous inning and already had four hits in the tournament, smacked a 1-1 fastball over the left fielder's head to score Zac Vaden and give San Mateo the 4-3 victory.
Matt Page helped give Palo Alto a 1-0 first-inning lead when he hit an RBI triple, but Palo Alto went hitless for five straight innings. Palo Alto's Colin Byrne tied the game in the top of the seventh with a sacrifice fly.
Belmont, which lost to Palo Alto 4-3 during opening-round play, survived a wild encounter against Mountain View on Thursday, 15-12.
At McKelvey Park, things looked promising for San Mateo when it took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. That was before Palo Alto's 13-year-old all-stars scored seven times in the bottom half on their way to a 16-3 win.
"Our hitting was pretty good," said co-coach Neil McGregor.
Palo Alto had 12 hits in just five innings, when the game was called by the 10-run mercy rule. BJ Boyd and Travis McHugh each had a pair of doubles while winning pitcher Sam Falkenhagen drove in five runs. Boyd, McHugh, Tucker Jorgenson and Jordan Piha all had two RBI each.
Falkenhagen and reliever Freddy Avis combined for a four-hitter over five innings as Palo Alto was able to split up the pitching chores once again.
"We have six guys who can pitch pretty well," said McGregor, who said that Jorgenson will get the start in Saturday's championship game.
Should the Palo Alto 13s win Saturday, they will advance to the State Tournament in Alameda starting July 14. From there, the possible path leads to the regional in Richfield, Utah, and the World Series in Loudon Country, Va.
The Palo Alto 14-year-old all-stars will open District 6 action Saturday against Belmont at 11 a.m. at the Belmont Sports Complex. A first-round win will move Palo Alto into Monday's second round against the Mountain View-San Mateo winner at 7 p.m.