Pitching, timely hitting pays dividends for PA National


By James Huber

Palo Alto Online Sports

Palo Alto National served notice Sunday that taking away its hard-earned District 52 tournament championship from last year (as 10-11 year olds) won't be so easy.

That's what Palo Alto American found out at Middlefield Park. PA National needed a late-inning rally to pull away in a 7-1 victory over PA American.

PA National scored six times in the fifth inning to put away a pesky American squad that had kept National's hitters off balance for most of the game. National used a combination of small ball and dominant pitching to earn their first victory.

Relief pitcher Justin Hull drew a bases loaded walk to put National ahead 2-1 after American had tied up the game in the top of the inning. Catcher Alec Olmstead delivered a swinging bunt single, which plated an extra run when the ball got by the American catcher.

Jason Huang, American's starting pitcher, had a RBI single that tied the contest ahead of the National's big rally.

National scored its first run on no hits. Brian Tracy scored on a fielders choice groundout to the third baseman after starting the inning off with a walk and advancing on a sacrifice bunt and error.

Left fielder Ben Cleasby completed the scoring with a three-run home run to straight-away center field.

"Cleasby had two great at-bats," Palo Alto National manager Alex Byer said. "He blasted that three-run home run and had a nice double earlier in the game."

Byer also praised the work of pitchers Riley Schoeben and Hull.

"They're the hard throwers," Byer said. "They are a pretty good combination. Riley's just developed a changeup and Justin has a really good curveball."

Schoeben and Hull overpowered Palo Alto American, combining for 12 strikeouts on the day. Schoeben struck out the side in each the second and third innings and Hull struck out the side to end the game.

Playing against people he knew from Palo Alto Little League didn't stop Hull from coldly dispatching American's hitters to close out the game.

"It's kind of fun because you know a lot of the players, but there's a little extra motivation to beat them," Hull said.

Palo Alto next plays Friday at Middlefield Ballpark at 5 p.m. against San Carlos National, who beat Redwood City American, 15-2, in its first game.

Palo Alto American, which beat Ravenswood, 14-1, in its first game, plays in an elimination game Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Middlefield against Redwood City American.

In other games, Half Moon Bay beat Menlo-Atherton, 7-3; Alpine-West Menlo defeated San Mateo National, 13-8; and San Carlos American recorded a 7-2 win over San Mateo American.

Belmont Redwood Shores dominated Highlanders, 11-0; Hillsborough slid by Foster City, 3-1; and Redwood City National earned a tough, 6-5, win over Pacifica American.

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Like this comment
Posted by Grandpa Schoeben
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Good going Riley Schoeben. I'm very proud of you and your whole team. Here's wishing you and your team continued success.

Like this comment
Posted by little leaguer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 28, 2011 at 9:24 am

Yes. And what would really have made this fair is if the Nationals had included players who played well this year and really deserved to be on this All Star team, not just all of the same players from last year. And most of them play together all year- so they have an unfair advantage. They are used to playing with each other. And yet the Americans who are newer to each other played really well and only lost at the very end.
Since this is Little League the coaches should be above only picking their own kids and their friends. Especially for these 12 years. This is their last year in Little League. The kids who really deserved to be on this team know who they are. And they and their parents are upset! This is the kind of experience that will stay with them all their lives. This is the kind of experience that shapes their self esteem.
So shame on the coaches of the Nationals for choosing players who did not have a good year this year, but were on the team last year. And shame on these coaches for not giving other players who played really well this year and deserved to be on the team their chance.
This team and mostly these coaches are not winners when this is how they make decisions.

Like this comment
Posted by HumbleOp
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 28, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Dear LLer,
It is illegal for an LL Allstar team to practice/play together before the team is selected.

Half the team is selected by the players vote. The balance is selected by all the National's managers. Any manager should have fought for a kid who has superior #'s. Please supply data (ie, BA avg, ERA...) or else you are just sounding like sour grapes. Plus you should of raised this to PALL Board for any injustices right after the selection.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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