By James Huber
Special to Palo Alto Online Sports
Top-seeded All Out Baseball advanced to the Palo Alto Little League City Tournament championship game with their 13-8 victory over No. 3 seed Morgan Gault at Middlefield Ballpark on Thursday.
The undefeated All Out team erupted for seven runs in the fifth inning and was led offensively by first baseman Pete Snodgrass, who hit two home runs and had five RBI on the day.
Balls were flying off the bat on a warm summer's day at Middlefield and All Out used big third and fifth innings to power past Morgan Gault. All Out scored five runs in the third inning to take a 6-1 lead and then tallied seven runs two innings later to pull away.
Snodgrass and starting pitcher Charlie Racz hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning to put All Out ahead by five runs early in the game, but Morgan Gault wouldn't go down without a fight. Morgan Gault shortstop Ethan Stern singled in two runs in the home half of the fourth inning and scored on center fielder Josh Brigel's inside-the-park home run to bring the game to a 6-6 tie.
"Going into the game, we knew that Morgan Gault had a great offense," said All Out head coach Alex Byer. "So we weren't surprised at all that they came back. Fortunately, today we managed to score a lot of runs."
After blowing a five-run lead, All Out's first seven hitters of the next inning came around to score. All Out used a combination of walks, hits and errors to dismantle Morgan Gault, which was punctuated by Snodgrass's third hit of the day, a double off the wall that brought home two runs.
Besides his mental approach at the plate, Snodgrass attributed his offensive outburst to a hefty pre-game meal.
"I had a big breakfast before I went to my brother's graduation today," said Snodgrass. "Three waffles, sausages and eggs."
On a more serious note, Snodgrass made it clear that All Out's chemistry and experience are key to their tournament run.
"We're all really good friends," Snodgrass said. "Six of us have been playing together for three years and the championship has been our team's goal all season."
The undefeated All Out team will play at Middlefield against No. 4 seed Healthy Pets on Saturday for the championship at 2 p.m.
After losing to All Out, 15-3, in the tournament earlier this week, Healthy Pets beat No. 2 Alhouse, 8-0, in Thursday's other semifinal at Hoover Park. Bradley Smith homered and Amit Rao had three hits to lead the winners. Healthy Pets will need to have back-to-back wins over All Out in order to win the championship.
"Healthy Pets is a great team," Alex Byer said. "They're really competitive and they keep coming back and winning. They're a very well-coached team and we expect a tough battle on Saturday."
If Healthy Pets wins Saturday's game, the two teams will play again on Sunday at 4 p.m. for the championship.
Palo Alto Little League City Tournament
Semifinal at Middlefield Ballpark
All Out 105 070 – 13 10 3
Morgan Gault 100 520 – 8 11 5
WP – David Clarke LP – Calder Hildr-Jones.
HR -- Snodgrass 2, Racz (AO); Brigel (MG). 2B -- Snodgrass (AO); Hildr-Jones (MG). 3 hits -- Snodgrass (AO). 2 hits -- Racz, Clarke (AO); Scheel, Gottleib, Sandu, Kao (MG). 5 RBI -- Snodgrass (AO). 3 RBI -- Brigel, Stern (MG). 2 RBI -- Clarke (AO).