Sacred Heart junior Cole March gunned down the tying run at home plate in the seventh inning to secure the Gators' 9-8 PAL Bay Division baseball win over visiting Menlo School on Wednesday afternoon.
The Gators improved to 4-3 (11-7 overall) while the Knights fell to 4-3 (13-7). The loss snapped Menlo's three game win streak and dropped the Knights into a tie for third place with Sacred Heart Prep.
"For us it's a good win to start of the second half of league," said Sacred Heart head coach Gregg Franceschi. "Now we have to go into Terra Nova (Thursday), which is going to be no easy task. We're hoping it's a good spring board for us for the rest of the season."
With runners on first and second base and two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Menlo sophomore Antonio Lopez grounded a single to left field. March played it perfectly and threw out junior Macklan Badger at home plate.
"That's a do-or-die play," said Franceschi. "He threw a strike to the plate and (catcher) Chris Lee did a good job of sealing it off and holding on to the ball."
March, a junior, also went 4-for-4 with three RBI, including a triple that he smashed to left-center field.
"I was just seeing the ball well today," said March. "I have (former San Francisco Giants player) J.T. Snow in practices helping us out and tinkering with my swing -- it feels really good."
Menlo went into the bottom half of the fourth inning with a four-run lead after Badger hit a two-run double to left-center field giving his team the 4-0 edge.
The Gators answered back for six runs in their fourth inning as they sent 12 hitters to the plate. With the bases loaded and one out, junior John Van Sweden was walked, giving Sacred Heart a 5-4 lead. Lee's RBI single made it 6-4.
Sacred Heart's lead grew in the fifth inning when March tripled home pinch-hitter Charlie Boyden. Junior pitcher Will Johnston helped his own cause and knocked a base hit, scoring March for an 8-4 advantage. Johnston was 2-for-3 and pitched five innings, picking up his fifth win of the season.
"He's been our best guy all year long without a doubt," said Franceschi. "I think if we get a break or two early, I don't think the innings are as bad as they are. Usually we pride ourselves on taking care of the baseball."
March was huge again for the Gators when he had an RBI single, scoring junior center fielder Andrew Robinson to make it a 9-7 game for the Gators.
"Huge win for us," said March, who's now hitting .333 on the season. "It's been a big rivalry game for years and it feels good to get back on top where we should be."
The Gators will take on Terra Nova on Thursday at 4 p.m. while the Knights host the Tigers on Friday at the same time.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto saw its possible title hopes disappear in a 6-5 loss in 10 innings at first-place Los Gatos. The Vikings fell to 7-4 in league (11-11 overall) while the Wildcats improved to 10-1.
Los Gatos got the deciding run when winning pitcher Corey Olivet led off the bottom of the 10th with a triple. After the next two hitters were intentionally walked, Olivet scored on a high infield chopper.
Palo Alto held a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh when Los Gatos put up the tying run.
Bowen Gerould led Paly with three hits with Austin Kron and Laurence Han adding two hits each.
In another De Anza Division game, Gunn (0-11, 2-20) dropped a 5-1 decision to visiting Los Altos (4-7, 9-12). David Schwardt's RBI single in the sixth inning provided the Titans' only run.