It's back to school, and reality, for the Menlo-Atherton baseball team, which enjoyed a highly successful spring break near Sacramento while winning the Rancho Cordova Easter Classic last week.
The Bears scored 45 runs, allowed only six, and had 43 hits while going 4-1 -- topped by a 6-2 triumph over host Cordova High in the final game. Senior Myles Brewer was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player after he hit three homers and drove in nine runs while playing in only four games. He also pitched twice.
Brewer was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Nick Lange, Cam Winn, Kyle Zirbes and Michael Ogrey. Not only did the Bears bring home the championship trophy, but a much-improved 14-7 record, as well.
It's back to the PAL Bay Division, however, and the Bears are smack dab in the middle of the race -- trailing Carlmont (7-3), El Camino (6-3) and Burlingame (4-3) but leading Hillsdale (3-4), Terra Nova 3-4), Sequoia (3-5) and Aragon (2-6).
Menlo-Atherton has three more two-game series on its regular-season schedule, beginning with Wednesday's road game at Hillsdale. The Knights will visit the Bears on Friday, also at 3:15 p.m.
The following two weeks will find Menlo-Atherton playing Terra Nova before finishing up with a home-and-home with Burlingame. At this point in the season, all six games are crucial to M-A's postseason hopes.
If the Bears can play like they did last week, a third-place finish (or higher) might not be out of the question if someone can knock off Carlmont or El Camino. Menlo-Atherton will need a consistent performance and continued solid play from up and down the lineup to remain in contention.
Palo Alto, meanwhile, played itself back into the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs by sweeping erstwhile leader Los Altos last week. The two losses knocked the Eagles out of first place and allowed Wilcox (11-2) to take over the top spot.
The Chargers have only one regular-season division game left, against Mountain View (1-10) on Tuesday. Thus, Wilcox is a virtual shoe-in to claim the regular-season title.
Palo Alto (9-3, 16-7), Homestead (9-3, 15-8-1) and Los Altos (9-3, 14-7) are battling for seeds in the De Anza Division playoffs, where Wilcox will open the best-of-three series against the No. 4 seed while the No. 2 and 3 seeds play. Should the Chargers lose the playoffs, they will share the overall league title.
Palo Alto went 14-0 last season and swept through the playoffs. This season has been more of a challenge after the Vikings were swept by Wilcox and then lost a tournament game to Del Mar. Since then Paly has won five straight while looking like the team that won nine straight before losing four of five.
Palo Alto will conclude the division season by visiting Saratoga (2-10) on Wednesday before hosting the Falcons on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The Vikings will play at Menlo School on Saturday (2 p.m.) in a makeup game before opening the division playoffs next week.
Paly is led by the Braff brothers, senior T.J. and junior Ozzie. T.J. is hitting a team-leading (among the starters).433 with 26 hits in 21 games while Ozzie is batting .400 with 18 hits in 16 games. Paly has a team batting average of .332 while the pitching staff has a team ERA of 1.45. Among the starters, junior Ben Sneider leads the way with a 0.34 ERA with only three earned runs allowed in 61 1/3 innings.
Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo School are back from their respective spring breaks, even though both teams played last week. The Gators (11-9) won a pair of games before taking four days off while the Knights (15-4) went 2-2 at the Bishop Gorman Classic in Las Vegas.
Sacred Heart Prep returns to West Bay Athletic League play on Friday by hosting Harker at 4 p.m. The Gators lead the league at 5-0. Menlo (3-1) will play road games against Pinewood (Tuesday) and Crystal Springs) and should be 5-1 by week's end. SHP and Menlo will meet on May 11 to likely decide the division title (or co-title).
In other highlights this coming week:
The Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep boys' golf teams will meet Wednesday at Sharon Heights Country Club (3:30 p.m.) to decide the WBAL regular-season title. Menlo is 8-0 while Sacred Heart Prep is 7-1.
In swimming, the Palo Alto girls (5-0) can wrap up an unbeaten season in the SCVAL De Anza Division when the Vikings host Saratoga on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
In track and field, Palo Alto will host Gunn in their annual dual-meet showdown on Thursday at 3:15 p.m.
In tennis, the SCVAL, WBAL and PAL all will host their respective individual tournaments for singles and doubles on Tuesday and Wednesday.