Palo Alto advanced to the championship round of the SCVAL De Anza Division baseball playoffs with a 13-0 romp over visiting Los Altos on Friday. The Vikings (22-8) will play Wilcox on Tuesday to open the best-of-three series.
Palo Alto certainly appears ready for the challenge after blasting 14 hits, five of them for extra bases. Senior T.J. Braff slammed a homer and ripped a double while Christoph Bono and Drake Swezey each hit triples while Will Glazier added a double. Austin Braff drove in three runs while T.J. Braff and Swezey had two RBI each, making it easy for Swezey to pick up the pitching win with six innings of four-hit ball. He struck out seven and walked only one.
The Vikings got the only run they needed in the first when Bono tripled off the right-field fence and then scored on Austin Braff's single. T.J. Braff hit a solo homer in the third before Paly blew it open with 10 runs in the fifth.
Palo Alto is hitting .346 as a team with 79 extra-base hits this season. T.J. Braff leads the way with a .469 average and a team-leading 38 hits.
Elsewhere on Friday:
Menlo School clinched another berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs and set up next Wednesday's showdown with Sacred Heart Prep for the West Bay Athletic League title by pounding out a 13-2 victory over host Harker on Friday.
The Knights (7-1, 20-5) were led by Tim Benton's four hits and two RBI and Jake Batchelder's three RBI. Senior Jake Bruml picked up his seventh win while relievers Kamyaar Butt and Freddy Avis were perfect in the sixth and seven innings, respectively. Menlo will host SHP on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
In Atherton, Sacred Heart Prep tuned up for its WBAL showdown with Menlo School by pounding out 15 hits in a 13-3 victory over visiting King's Academy on Friday. The Gators (8-0, 15-10) got four hits from sophomore Mike Covell and three each from Cal Baloff and fellow senior Bryan Munks, with Munks slamming two doubles. SHP put up four runs in the first and never looked back.
Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep are both assured of advancing to the CCS Division III playoffs. Wednesday's game will determine whether the Gators win the league title outright or share it. Last season, Menlo lost the first meeting and won the second as the teams shared the title.
In Los Altos Hills, Josh Rose slammed three doubles among his five hits to pace host Pinewood to a 10-6 victory over Crystal Springs in another WBAL contest. Rose also drove in three runs and swiped three bases as the Panthers improved to 11-7 overall.
Cyrus Chagnon got the victory with two innings of solid relief after starter Nate Bell left after five innings with the score tied. The Panthers then scored five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Zach Jones and Dylan Dreyer each had three hits for Pinewood while John Bennett, Dante Fraioli and Jones all had three RBI.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton saw its playoff hopes slip further away following an 11-8 loss to host Terra Nova in Pacifica. The Bears (5-7, 15-10) held leads of 1-0, 5-3, 6-4 and 8-7 but gave up four runs to the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth as the host team put together two hits, two walks and two errors to secure the victory and sweep the two-game series. Kyle Zirbes homered for M-A and had two hits as did Casey Eason and Will Lyons. The Bears, however, committed four errors on the cold and windy day.
Palo Alto closed out its regular season in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 14-7 triumph over visiting Burlingame on Friday. The Vikings improved to 7-5 in league (12-6 overall) and advanced to the first round of the SCVAL playoffs on Saturday against Sacred Heart Prep.
Palo Alto grabbed a 3-1 lead in the first period, increasing it to 8-2 at the half, and 12-4 at the end of the third. Senior attackman Cory Valenti led the Vikings with four goals and an assist, while fellow senior Zach Spain had three goals and an assist. Middie John Brunett scored two goals and two assists while winning eight of 11 face-offs. Kevin Proceviat, Matt Lam, Andrew Scola, Jordan Gans, and Logan Mendenhall all scored once.
In a match between the top two teams in the West Bay Athletic League from last season and two of the top scorers in the nation from this year, defending champion Menlo School got eight goals and two assists from sophomore Michaela Michael and defeated visiting Burlingame, 18-8, on Friday in the final regular-season match for both teams.
Michael entered the match ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring and improved her totals to 105 goals and 134 points, likely taking over the state lead in both goals and points (goals and assists). Burlingame's Charlotte Pratt, who ranks among the nation's top 10 scorers, tallied six to lead the Panthers.
Sophomore Ali Kim added four goals to help make Senior Day a winner for the Knights, who honored eight seniors with their parents (and even some grandparents) -- Devin Garnick, Sarah Graham-Helwig, Madeleina Halley, Rachel Star, Margot Yecies and three of the team's captains, Taylor Jones, Monica Rosenkranz and Kyra Vargas. Jones and Vargas both scored while all eight seniors played.
In Atherton, Castilleja got four goals each from Martha Harding and Stephanie Merenbach in a 13-10 win over host Menlo-Atherton in another regular-season finale for both teams. The Gators (4-4, 7-6) got three goals and two assists from sophomore Katherine Hobbs with senior Charlotte Geaghan-Breiner adding two goals and two assists. Freshman goalie Rebecca Merenbach had another solid performance with eight saves for Castilleja.
The WBAL playoffs will begin next week with the championship match set for Saturday at Woodside High at 9 a.m.
Emily Swanson walked, stole second and scored on a single by Anna Gale in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Palo Alto to a 3-2 nonleague victory over visiting Gunn on Friday. The Vikings improved to 9-15 while the Titans fell to 13-13.
Gunn played with only eight players due to the recent ankle sprain suffered by standout pitcher Claire Klausner, who is out for the remainder of the year. The Titans also were without head coach Stephanie Swinford for the second straight game. She was terminated by Gunn Athletic Director Chris Horpel on Tuesday following a disagreement Swinford had with a parent of one of her players.
Despite all the off-field drama, the Titans took a 1-0 lead when senior Nicole Grimwood singled to left, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a single by Claire Collins. The Vikings answered in the bottom of the inning when Gale singled, advanced on Gracie Marshall's hit and eventually scored on the second of two passed balls. Each team added another run before Swanson and Gale provided the winning combination in the seventh.
In the West Bay Athletic League, Amy Yamamura pitched a three-hitter and drove in two runs to lift Castilleja to a 3-2 softball victory over visiting Harker on Friday. Sarah Shore doubled and drove in the other run for the Gators (5-2, 11-11).
In Atherton, Menlo School (6-3, 7-7) rallied from a 5-0 deficit to overtake visiting King's Academy, 7-6. Jada Rice started the rally in the bottom of the fourth by doubling home a run. Jasmin Williams then added a two-run single. In the fifth, the Knights put together four hits to score four runs and give pitcher Kelly McConnell the win. Menlo next will play host to Castilleja on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The top-seeded Menlo School boys' tennis team easily advanced to the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section Team Tournament with a 7-0 romp over visiting Monterey on Friday. The Knights (22-1) will host Los Altos (16-2), a 4-3 winner over St. Ignatius, on Monday at 3 p.m. The winner advances to Wednesday's semifinals at Courtside Club in Los Gatos at 2 p.m.
Defending champion Menlo won all four singles matches while losing just one game. Andrew Ball won at No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-1, while Justin Chan, Richard Pham and Andrew Carlisle all won, 6-0, 6-0. Daniel Morkovine and David Ball were the only players tested as they won at No. 1 doubles, 7-5, 6-3. Kyle Sum and Mac Osborne won at No. 2 while Michael Hoffman and Zach Chase won easily at No. 3. The final two tandems lost only a combined three games.
In other second-round matches, Gunn (12-9) dropped a 6-1 decision at No. 2 Saratoga (17-5) while Menlo-Atherton (17-3) fell to No. 4 Leland (17-5), 5-2, in San Jose.
"We played well, and got beat by a solid team," said Gunn coach Jim Gorman, whose singles players were swept while winning only eight games combined. "Gunn played well, Saratoga played better."
The Titans' No. 2 doubles tandem of Kevin Macario and Thomas George prevented a shutout with a 7-5, 6-4 victory.