The Palo Alto Oaks aren't scheduled to play their final semipro baseball game of the summer until August. 15. The two biggest tournaments of the season, however, are right around the corner and Palo Alto is in good shape for both.
The Oaks will play one more weekend series next Sunday, against the Morgan Hill Mudcats at Baylands Athletic Center, before heading to the State Playoffs in Santa Rosa. The only question is whether the Oaks will go as the Western Baseball Association champion and the No. 1 seed or as the No. 2.
Following the State Playoffs will be the West Region tourney beginning July 30.
Palo Alto (12-0-1) controls its destiny for the midseason "postseason" after sweeping the El Cerrito A's, 11-6 and 3-0, on Sunday at Baylands.
Palo Alto High grad Jason Kleinhoffer made his first start of the summer and tossed five innings in the opener. Kleinhoffer gave up two runs on six hits and struck out five. He did not get the victory, though, as he left with the game tied at 2.
San Jose State-bound Jason Kafka started the sixth for the Oaks, but could not get out of the inning because of wildness. El Cerrito scored three times before normal starter Matt Campbell came in to relieve Kafka. Campbell (5-0) wound up getting the win when the Oaks scored seven times in the final two innings.
Allan Stiles, Mike Reiling and Bryan Beres each had three hits for Palo Alto in the opening win.
Stiles led off the first with an opposite-field triple and scored on Greg Matson's single. It was Stiles again in the third with a lead-off single. Reiling plated Stiles with a triple to right-center field. After El Cerrito went ahead in the sixth, the Oaks responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning to close the gap to 5-4. Beres led off with an opposite-field triple and scored when Nick Schulz's grounder to the second baseman was turned into an error. A walk to Tyler Christian and a passed ball put runners at second and third for Grant Nelson, who hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Schulz.
The A's failed to score in the seventh but the Oaks did not. Will Klein led off the inning with a single, and that was followed by a single by Stiles. Reiling then plated Klein with a single to tie the score. But the Oaks were just getting started. With Stiles and Reiling on first and second with nobody out, a perfect double steal was performed to put both runners in scoring position. After an out, Beres knocked in Stiles with a single and then Schulz singled in both Reiling and Beres to give the Oaks a three-run lead.
The A's managed to get a run in the top of the eighth, but the Oaks scored three more of their own highlighted by Stiles, Reiling, and Beres all getting their third hits of the game. The scheduled nine-inning game was called after eight because of time limit.
In the nightcap, Brant Norlander (3-0) was dominate once again, just missing a no-hitter. In fact, Norlander had a perfect game until there was one out in the fifth. The only hit given up was a dribbler down the third-base line. That, and a walk in the sixth, were the only two A's to touch a base against Norlander, who struck out nine.
Offensively for the Oaks, all the damage was done in the first inning. Paly grad Evan Warner led the game off with a double to left center. Stiles brought home Warner with a sharp single to right field. Matson, the former Gunn standout, then plated Stiles with a double to right field. Reiling then scored Matson with a single to put the Oaks up 3-0.
The Oaks had other opportunities in the game but failed to score again. But, with Norlander in full control, the game was never in question.
Western Baseball Association
Stan Musial Division
At Baylands Athletic Center
El Cerrito A's 100 103 01 -- 6 11 3
Palo Alto Oaks 101 002 43 -- 11 12 0
WP -- Matt Campbell (5-0). LP -- Robby Eleck.
3B -- Stiles, Beres, Reiling (PA). 2B -- Linn (EC). 3 hits -- R. Graham (EC); Stiles, Beres, Reiling (PA). 2 hits -- S. Graham, Linn (EC).
Records: Palo Alto Oaks 11-0-1
Palo Alto Oaks 300 000 0 -- 3 7 0
El Cerrito Als 000 000 0 -- 0 1 0
WP -- Brant Norlander (3-0). LP -- Ken Stewart.
2B -- Warner, Matson (PA). 2 hits -- Stiles(PA).
Records: Palo Alto Oaks 12-0-1