By Jen Cosgriff
Palo Alto Online Sports
Palo Alto outfielder Daniel Tachna-Fram knew what happened and he knows how to correct it. He hopes it's not too late.
Though they never stopped fighting, Palo Alto fell to Bel-Mateo, 7-4, in a winners'-bracket game of the District 6 Babe Ruth 14-year-old all-star tournament Tuesday night in Belmont.
"We've got to minimize the mistakes," Tachna-Fram said, "and start hitting sooner."
Bel-Mateo jumped out to an early lead, scoring two runs in the first inning on an error and a balk. It continued to score a run in each of the following three innings and added its final two in the fifth inning.
When Bel-Mateo stopped scoring, however, Palo Alto began its comeback. Down 7-1 in the sixth, Jack Cleasby led off with a single and advance to second on a throwing error. Alex Aguiar singled him home and, two batters later, Tachna-Fram punched home another run with a single. Aguiar added another RBI in the seventh.
"We're as good a team as Bel-Mateo is," Palo Alto manager Ron Fried said. "The bottom line is, every mistake we made, they capitalized on. They scored on just about every error we made. Against a team that's as good as you, or comparable to you, you just can't afford to make mistakes. We gave them too many chances."
Palo Alto can take some positives away from the game. Players were getting on base, with the team combining for eight hits and two walks.
There were also some great defensive plays. Starting pitcher Chris Smith grabbed two searing line drives, First basemen Alex Furrier caught a line drive and scooped a ball out of the dirt to end an inning.
The team is looking to carry over these positives into Wednesday night's elimination game against Mountain View (7 p.m.), with the winner advancing to play Bel-Mateo on Thursday at 7 p.m. A challenge game, if necessary, will be Friday. Bel-Mateo will have to be beaten twice to lose the title.
"I think we learned that it's not going to be handed to us," Aguiar said. "We've got to play hard."
Fried remains confident his team can still compete for the title.
"It's a little longer road for us now, but we still have a lot of confidence in them," he said. "We know that they can play, we know that they can hit. We've got plenty of pitching. We have to play Mountain View, and then we'll see what happens."