Overcoming huge deficits early in the game, the Palo Alto Babe Ruth 15-year-old all-stars rallied for a 16-13 victory over Woodland and advanced to the championship game of the NorCal State Tournament on Tuesday night in Vallejo.
Palo Alto will play Woodland in the championship game on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Should Palo Alto lose, a second game will be played 30 minutes following the end of the first contest.
Woodland defeated Hayward, 11-4, in the consolation finale on Wednesday night in the double-elimination event.
Palo Alto defeated Hayward on Sunday, 5-0, and has Hayward to thank for a late start to Tuesday's game. Hayward held off Sonoma, 14-13, in extra innings. That pushed back the start of Palo Alto's game, scheduled for 7:30 p.m., to 9:45 p.m.
The game was further delayed when outfield sprinklers came on around midnight and held up the action for some 30 minutes. When the game finally finished, it was 1:15 a.m.
"It was a draining experience," said Palo Alto manager Bob Budelli. "I'm not used to going to bed at 3:30 (a.m.) On the bright side, there wasn't much traffic on I-80 at that time of the morning. We got home really quickly."
Palo Alto trailed by 5-0 after one inning and 7-0 after two, but scored six runs in the third and five more in the fourth to take an 11-9 lead. Woodland tied it with two runs in the top of the fifth, but Palo Alto answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame for a 14-11 advantage.
After holding Woodland scoreless for the first time in the top of the sixth, Palo Alto added two more runs for a 16-11 lead.
Woodland put two runners on in the top of the seventh before Palo Alto nearly pulled off a game-ending triple play. With two out, Woodland's next hitter slammed a two-run homer to make it 16-13. Palo Alto then induced a 4-3 groundout to end the marathon night.
"All the kids stepped up," Budelli said. "Everyone had a role."
Budelli used four pitchers -- Jack Larson, Nick Wells, Clay Carey and Andrew Lim -- but none pitched extensively and should be ready for Thursday's championship game.
Curly Kadash had three hits and four RBI against Woodland while Carey added two hits and four RBI. Well contributed a two-run double.
The Palo Alto National 10-11 Little League all-stars saw their season end in a 4-2 loss to Union City National in the Section 3 Tournament on Tuesday night in Union City. Palo Alto had beaten this same Union City team, 19-0, on Sunday but the consolation-bracket finale was much different.
Union City held a 4-2 lead going into the top of the sixth, but Palo Alto threatened by loading the bases. Alec Olmstead, who had gotten aboard on an error and advanced to third on a single and another error, then was thrown out at home on a fielder's choice.
Down to its final out and with the bases still loaded, Palo Alto appeared to tie the game when Brian Tracy came home from third on a grounder by Ethan Stern was thrown to first with no call being made. Confusion ensued and Tommy Smale took advantage, racing home to beat the throw and apparently tie the game at 4.
"The first base ump did not handle this well. He just froze," said Palo Alto coach John Smale. "He made no call; just stood there as the runner (Stern) crossed the base. Implicity, this would suggest that the runner was safe. Then the two runs scored to tie the game."
Smale said that only after the Union City coach challenged the call (which should never happen on a judgement call per Little League rules) and the Union City fans berated the ump that all four umpires congregated and decided to call Stern out.
"I've never seen anything like this one," Smale said.
Eric Maser had an RBI single in the second to give Palo Alto a 1-0 lead and teammate Pete Snodgrass slammed a pinch-hit solo home run in the fourth to bring Palo Alto to within 3-2.