Heading into the weekend, the Sacred Heart Prep baseball team was in good shape to challenge for its first-ever berth in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs. In less than 24 hours, however, that dream is pretty much gone.
First, the Gators dropped a 2-1 decision to visiting Burlingame on Friday. Then, in the resumption of a game that was protested on March 18 after SHP had won, the Gators came up short Saturday morning in a 11-10 loss to Menlo-Atherton.
In the fourth inning of the contest that was played on the 18th, Sacred Heart coaches and players were ejected following a batter's interference call. The umpires lost control of the game and had to put the meeting to a stoppage.
"He called the guy out when he should've just called a dead ball," explained SHP head coach Anthony Granato. "I was never notified of the protest until a day and half later. They won the protest and it ended up withheld at their end and that's (expletive). We came back on the road and scored seven runs and they ended up winning the game, it's terrible."
With the losses to Burlingame and M-A, the Gators dropped to 7-5 (14-10 overall) and are two games behind PAL Bay Division leader Carlmont (9-3) and one behind Terra Nova (8-4) with two regular-season games remaining this week against Capuchino.
"We've got to keep fighting," said Granato. "We've got two games left, now we're fighting for our opportunity to make it to CCS."
The Bears resumed Saturday's game holding a 10-9 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Menlo-Atherton senior pitcher Kodiak Conrad struck out the side in the top of fifth inning and the Bears retained the 10-9 lead. Conrad picked up his second win of the season.
In the bottom half of the fifth, M-A senior Brian Coggins lined a double to the left-center field gap, bringing home sophomore Nick Prainito from second base and the Bears had an 11-9 advantage.
Sacred Heart senior Mitch Martella led off the sixth inning with a solo home run, just out of the reach of the right fielder and the Gators cut the lead to 11-10.
The Gators were threatening to score in the top of the seventh when Will Johnston led off the inning with a walk, but was called out on a throw to second base by Daniel Kollar-Gasiewski on a steal attempt. The No. 2 and 3 hitters then grounded out to third base and the Bears took the victory.
Sacred Heart will host Capuchino (3-9, 11-14 overall) in a PAL Division matchup on Wednesday while the Bears (6-6, 11-13) visit Menlo School in a home-and-home series prior to the PAL playoffs.
In nonleague action, Palo Alto (15-11) posted a 3-0 victory over host Leigh as Ben Cleasby and Max Jung-Goldberg provided two hits and Viking starter Corey Bicknell twirled a three-hitter over six innings. Justin Hull had a double and two RBI, while Jack Andrews and Cleasby also had doubles.
In San Mateo, Menlo School (5-19) dropped a 6-0 decision to host Serra. The Knights are closing in on their first 20-loss season since 1984 when Menlo went 0-22.