The Palo Alto National Little League 10-11 all-stars have breezed through the first two rounds of the Section 3 Tournament in Union City by outscoring their opponents 28-0. The competition will get considerably more difficult in the semifinals on Monday night.
That's when Palo Alto takes on Danville, the District 57 champion, at Hall Ranch Field (4525 Dyer Street) at 5:30 p.m. Last season as 10-year olds, the Danville players won the Section 3 tourney and went on to capture the Northern California title.
Danville advanced to Monday's showdown with a 4-0 victory over Neward American on Saturday. Through the luck of the draw (there are five teams in the event), Danville had a bye on Sunday.
The Palo Alto-Danville winner will advance to Wednesday's championship game at 5:30 p.m. A challenge game, if necessary, will be played Thursday, also at 5:30 p.m.
The last time any Palo Alto Little League team won a section title was in 2006, when Palo Alto defeated Danville in an epic encounter, 23-22, at Palo Alto's Middlefield Ballpark. That was a Palo Alto National 11-12 all-star team coached by Dave Goldman, who was on hand Sunday to watch the 10-11s prevail.
The Palo Alto National 10-11s opened the Section 3 tourney on Saturday with a 9-0 victory over Tracy American, 9-0. Alec Olmstead started and went 3 1/3 innings, giving up no runs, one hit and registering eight strikeouts.
Olmstead was relieved by a committee of pitchers with all staying under the 20-pitch limit that allowed them to pitch on Sunday, if needed. That group included Tommy Smale, Ryan Change, Justin Hull and Riley Schoeben.
Ben Cleasby and Pete Snodgrass both had two hits for Palo Alto to lead the team offensively.
In Sunday's second game, Palo Alto routed Union City National, 19-0 with the game called after four innings. Palo Alto tallied three runs in the first inning off of a double by Ethan Stern, a single by Chang, a walk to Hull and few passed balls.
In the second, Chang once again demonstrated his power with a three-run homer over the fencer in center field fence. Griffy Byer and Brian Tracy added singles and Hull provided a double as Palo Alto scored five times.
In the third inning, the slugfest continued with solid hits by Stern, Hull, Olmstead, Tracy and Snodgrass. In the fourth, Cleasby wrapped up the RBI party with a grand-slam home run over the center-field fence.
Looking ahead at the demanding tournament schedule, Palo Alto manager, Ted Tracy used four pitchers on Sunday -- Chang, Smale, Hull and Schoeben -- and kept them all eligible for any future games. Together, the foursome combined for a no-hitter with six strikeouts and only three walks.