The SCVAL De Anza Division baseball race just got a little tighter as Palo Alto jumped back into the thick of things with a 4-1 victory over first-place Los Altos on Wednesday.
The loss knocked the Eagles (9-2, 14-6) into a virtual tie with Wilcox (10-2, 19-3), pending the outcome of Friday's game when Los Altos visits Palo Alto to conclude their series at 3:30 p.m.
Palo Alto improved to 8-3 in league (15-7 overall) and can force a tie for second with Los Altos by winning on Friday.
Junior Ben Sneider tossed a complete-game four-hitter for the Vikings and lowered his ERA to 0.34 in 61 1/3 innings. Paly junior Austin Braff drove in two runs and Will Glazier had a pair of hits along with an RBI. Braff and Jack Witte each had sacrifice flys. Palo Alto had just six hits after getting four on Monday in a 2-1 win over Bellarmine.
In Las Vegas, Jake Batchelder singled in Tim Benton with the winning run in the seventh inning as Menlo School defeated Cottonwood of Utah, 9-8, in an opening-round game of the Bishop Gorman Easter Classic on Wednesday.
The Knights (14-2) built an 8-1 lead after four innings, but the Colts, a four-time Utah state champion and the third-place finisher in this tournament last season, battled back to tie the game going into the bottom of the seventh.
Benton, a senior, led off the seventh with a walk, went to second on wild pitch and then advanced to third on freshman Mikey Diekroeger's hit -- setting the stage for Batchelder's winning hit. Menlo pounded out 14 hits with Batchelder leading the way with three while senior Jake Bruml had two doubles.
Junior Freddy Avis (5-0), who drove in four runs, picked up the victory in relief of Bruml. The Colts fell to 8-6 overall. Menlo School will play a quarterfinal game on Thursday night against the winner of Newbury Park and Glouchester Catholic (N.J.) game.
In the West Bay Athletic League, the Sacred Heart Prep players earned four days off by rapping out a 14-3 victory over visiting Crystal Springs on Wednesday. The Gators (5-0, 11-9) maintained their one-game lead over Menlo by pounding out 15 hits and playing flawless defense against the Gryphons (0-5, 1-12), who committed four errors.
Matt Martella had a double and triple and drove in four runs to pace SHP while Will Nahmens stroked a pair of doubles and drove in two runs to support John Geary's pitching. He and reliever Cal Baloff combined to limit Crystal Springs to just five hits. Zack Buono and Charlie Moran contributed two hits each to the Gators' attack.
In Rancho Cordova, Menlo-Atherton saw its run of perfection end in a 2-1 loss to Folsom in the fourth round of a tournament near Sacramento. The Bears (13-7) dropped their first game after three tourney wins when an error, three groundball singles and then a second error allowed Folsom to score two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
M-A starter Nick Lange didn't allow a runner past second until the seventh. He finished with seven strikeouts and picked a runner off first before things fell apart in the final frame.
After getting 20 hits in two victories on Tuesday, the Bears managed just four singles against Folsom. Menlo-Atherton took the lead in the third when Casey Eason led off with a single, Kyle Zirbes drew a walk, Lange laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Eason to third and Myles Brewer hit a long sacrifice fly to center to bring Eason home.
Gunn fell out of a tie for first place in the SCVAL El Camino Division following a 4-0 loss to visiting Los Altos on Wednesday. Sophomore Claire Klausner struck out 14 for the Titans (5-2, 11-8), who managed only four singles against the Eagles (5-3, 9-7).