Quick thinking, relief pitching lift Menlo Chevron into finals

Kannappan doubles, triples and drives in three runs to help beat B&B Builders, 10-8

By Colin Becht

Palo Alto Online Sports

More than the two innings Menlo Chevron batted around, two other offensive rallies and some nifty pitching that got it out of a seventh-inning jam helped Menlo Chevron edge B&B Builders, 10-8, in the second-round winners'-bracket contest of the Palo Alto Babe Ruth League Championships.

Menlo Chevron nearly blew an 8-2 lead Saturday at Baylands, holding on to earn a spot in the championship game on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. B&B will play Monday in the losers'-bracket final for a chance at a rematch with Menlo Chevron. B&B would have to win twice on Tuesday (the challenge game is at 8 p.m.) to wrest the crown from Menlo.

With its once-large lead trimmed to two entering the final inning of play, Menlo Chevron stuck with reliever Will King to hold B&B scoreless for only the second time.

King was faced with an early challenge as James Foug and Roy Shadmon each reached base on errors.

"You've kind of got to zone that out and just continue to battle," King said. "Luckily we got out of it."

King stared down the stressful situation, getting the next hitter on strikes and picking off the lead runner, who broke early for third base.

"Their coach was like, 'Watch the inside move,' and I heard him," King said. "I just figured he was stealing so I did the inside move."

Turning the defensive lapses into two outs, King grabbed control and induced a pop fly, which he caught himself to clinch the win.

"That was a special performance; Will battled," Menlo Chevron manager Jon Cannon said. "He won us the game."

Though Menlo Chevron seemed to be in command scoring eight runs in the first three innings, its insurance run in each the fourth and sixth proved to be the difference.

Brian Kannappan roped a two-out double to right-center to score Leo McCabe in the fourth. Kannappan was Menlo Chevron's most productive hitter of the game, adding a triple and driving in three runs overall.

"All year we've just hit the ball hard," King said. "It's a big confidence booster knowing that your offense is going to be there for you."

Menlo Chevron combined for 11 hits, seven coming in the first and third innings as they batted around in both frames.

"We're not a one-man show," Cannon said. "I can go back to almost every game and the one thing that stands out is I don't have just one person."

McCabe, the winning pitcher, helped his own cause with a two-RBI opposite field single in the third.

"It was up a little bit and I took it the other way," McCabe said.

Alex Aguiar beautifully fulfilled his role of a leadoff hitter, reaching base in all four of his plate appearances. He hit a triple, a double and walked twice.

"My goal every time is just to get on base and set the table for other people to get me in," Aguiar said. "If I get on to lead off, I think we can score that run."

Still, even with Menlo Chevron's early run production, B&B made it a tense game, rallying for five runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Sam Crowder drove in two with a single to left in the fifth, part of a three-RBI day for the third baseman. Rohit Ramkumar, who tossed a three-hitter in B&B's first round win over Alhouse Realty, also brought in three runs, two of the them on a two-out single up the middle in the sixth.

Jack Cleasby added to the B&B offense, scoring twice and getting three hits. He also made some fantastic plays at second base to keep his team within striking distance of Menlo Chevron.

District 52 Little League tournament

Alpine West Menlo advanced with a 13-8 victory over San Mateo National in the 11-12 Majors tournament on Saturday at Middlefield Park in Palo Alto.

Alpine meets Half Moon Bay, which beat Menlo Atherton, 7-2, on Thursday at 5 p.m.

Menlo Atherton meets the winner of Monday's game between Ravenswood and San Mateo National on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

In the 9-10 age group, Alpine West Menlo will play Palo Alto American on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. on the North Field of Lakeshore Park in San Mateo.

Alpine beat Palo Alto National, 13-10, on Saturday while Palo Alto American edged Pacifica National, 4-2.

In another game, San Carlos National beat Menlo Atherton, 17-11.

Ravenswood plays Monday, Menlo Atherton plays Tuesday and Palo Alto National plays Wednesday, all at 5:30 p.m., against opponents to be determined.

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