Palo Alto withstood a five-run first inning by visiting Saratoga and rallied with seven runs in the fourth to pull out a 9-5 victory to cap the SCVAL De Anza Division regular season in baseball on Friday.
Paly starter Kevin Kannappan gave up the five runs but settled down and blanked the Falcons over the next four innings. Graham Marchant and Sam Maliska finished off with scoreless innings of relief.
"It was a good finish," said Paly coach Erick Raich. "We gave up five runs in the first and then our pitchers did an excellent job of shut it down after that.
"We got majority of our runs in the fourth. We just chipped away with good at-bats as a team and then TJ (Braff) hit the biggest home run I've ever seen hit at Palo Alto. It landed on the softball field in left-center Field on the softball pitcher's mound."
Braff had a double in addition to his monster home run for the Vikings while driving in four. Fellow senior Christoph Bono had two hits and two RBI as Paly rapped out 11 hits and played flawless defense.
Palo Alto finished the division season 11-3 (19-7 overall) and is now ranked No. 4 in the CCS, No. 86 in the state and No. 539 in the nation by MaxPreps.
The Vikings will open the division playoffs on Tuesday at home against Los Altos at 3:30 p.m. The Eagles earned the No. 3 seed by beating Homestead on Friday. The series will shift to Los Altos on Thursday with a third game, if necessary, at Paly on Friday. The series winner will face the Wilcox-Homestead winner the following week in another best-of-three series.
In the West Bay Athletic League, junior pitcher Jake Batchelder led Menlo School to its third victory of the week with six innings of two-hit shutout baseball and was just as dominant at the plate with three doubles and five RBI in a 20-0 rout of host Crystal Springs in a game at Sea Cloud Park in Foster City.
Senior Kamyaar Butt pitched a perfect seventh, striking all three batters he faced, and junior Dylan Mayer went 5 for 5 five with two RBI as the Knights improved to 5-1 in league (18-4 overall). Menlo returns to action Saturday by hosting Palo Alto (19-7) at 2 p.m.
In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep held on to its lead in the WBAL, but just barely, as the Gators pulled out a 2-1 victory over visiting Harker on Friday. Sacred Heart scored the winning runs in the fourth after Harker had tied the game in the top of the inning.
Jack Larson pitched a complete-game three-hitter for SHP (6-0, 12-9), which still holds a one-game over Menlo in the WBAL. The Gators will host International (San Francisco) in a nonleague game Saturday at 2 p.m.
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton bounced back from Wednesday's loss to Hillsdale and put it all together for a 10-3 victory over the Knights on Friday. The Bears improved to 5-5 (15-8) to remain in the middle of the race.
Kyle Zirbes drove in threet runs, one on a homer, and had three hits. Nick Lange and Dylan Cook contributed two hits each. Lange picked up the win as he scattered six hits over five innings. He received three running catches in the outfield from Sam Falkenhagen, Myles Brewer and Michael Abramson.
The Bears grabbed the lead for good with five runs in the third. Cam Winn singled and eventually scored on a single by Zirbes, who came home on a single by Lange. After two walks and consecutive singles by Cook and Ryan Cortez, the Bears had a 5-2 lead. The Bears added three runs in the fourth on consecutive singles by Casey Eason, Zirbes, Lange and Brewer, along with some aggressive baserunning as the Bears pulled off two double steals. Zirbes hit a two-run homer in the fifth.
In nonleague action, host Pinewood (9-6), Owen Lewis pitched four innings of one-hit ball and added two hits (one a triple) and two RBI to pace the Panthers to an 18-0 romp over Summit Prep on Friday. Nate Bell added two hits and three RBI while Josh Rose contributed two hits, two RBI and scored three runs. Sam Carp also was a standout with three RBI and two hits.
Duncan Hoskinson scored five goals and Andrew Eifert added four as Sacred Heart Prep defeated host Carlmont on Friday, 16-3. Frankie Hattler added two goals and three assists while Wade Sedgwick contributed two goals as the Gators improved to 14-3 overall against the 1-10 Scots. SHP goalie Mark Oppenheimer had eight saves.
Charlotte Biffar scored six goals and Emily Benatar and Jordan Smith added two each as Palo Alto romped to a 12-3 victory over host Saratoga in SCVAL De Anza Division action on Friday. The Vikings improved to 9-1 in league (10-7) as they continued to push to the postseason while preparing to defend their league playoff championship.
Castilleja had a successful day to open the NorCal Classic at Merrill West High in Fresno, edging Modesto, 4-2, before holding off Lathrop, 15-14.
Amy Yamamura (5-3) got the win in the opener with a three-hitter as Annie Apffel hit a home run along with a single and double while driving in three runs. Aryana Yee added two singles.
In the second game, Yee survived an 11-hit attack as the Gators withstood a four-run inning by Lathrop in the bottom of the seventh to nearly pull it out. Castilleja had taken a 15-10 lead after scoring twice in the top of the final frame. Apffel slugged her second homer of the day, added two doubles and drove in three runs. Amanda Shore added three hits and two RBI.
Menlo-Atherton was assured of winning the doubles final at the Peninsula Athletic League Individual Tournament on Friday at Burlingame as the Bears' Zeke Brown and Matt Giordano took on teammates Jesse and Christian Perkins.
While the Perkins twins came into the match unbeaten during the league season, it was Brown and Giordano pulling off a 6-1, 6-4 triumph over the top-seeded tandem. All four players are juniors.
Brown and Giordano played doubles together their first two years and went undefeated, but didn't play as partners until this week. To be fair, the Perkins twins were up studying past midnight on Thursday while preparing for a Saturday morning AP exam. The two also were still trying to overcome the devastating loss of their grandmother, who passed away recently.
All four M-A players qualified for the Central Coast Section double playoffs, which start May 24.