The Palo Alto Oaks nearly had one last comeback left in their arsenal. Unfortunately it didn't quite work out as the potential tying run was thrown out at the plate to end the eighth inning.
Palo Alto High grad Evan Warner had three hits and Jeff Ramirez drove in four runs but the Oaks fell to the Northwest Wildcats, 10-9, in the championship semifinal game of the Stan Musial World Series in Houston on Saturday night.
Down 10-0 after four innings, the Oaks clawed their way back into contention with a five-run sixth, highlighted by Ramirez's three-run home run. M-A grad Tyler Finley and Anthony Bona also drove in runs in the inning.
In the eighth, Warner, Ramirez and Sam Wilkens drove in runs and a Wildcats' error produced another run. Warner scored on Ramirez's single but Allen Stiles was thrown out at the plate by a perfect relay throw.
Brian Needham set the Oaks (22-3) down in order in the ninth, sending Northwest into an elimination game against the Long Island Storm on Sunday afternoon. The winner plays the Canton Stallions on Sunday night for the championship.
Long Island handed the Stallions their first loss of the double-elimination tournament on Saturday, 5-2.
Meanwhile the Oaks officially finished fourth in their second straight trip to the World Series. They were third last year.
Warner finished the tournament with a .500 batting average (9-for-18) and a .611 slugging percentage.
The Oaks did themselves no favors by committing three errors after committing two over the previous three games combined.
Dominic Hernandez struggled with his control but still managed to pitch 4 1/3 innings of relief without allowing an earned run. He threw 9 1/3 innings in his two appearances, allowing six hits and walking eight.
Overall, the Oaks used five pitchers against the Wildcats. They combined to walk 13 hitters, strike out nine, hit two batters and throw five wild pitches. They also stranded 14 Northwest baserunners to give Palo Alto a chance at the comeback.