It's a mad scramble for a spot in the four-team Palo Alto Babe Ruth League playoffs. With a 6-1 win over defending champ Menlo Chevron at Baylands Athletic Center on Saturday, The Oaks guaranteed itself a place in the city championship, which starts Friday.
The Oaks (9-4) plays DFJ (4-9) on Tuesday at 5 p.m. as the regular season comes to an end. Menlo Chevron (7-6) needed a win over Old Pro (6-7) to have a shot at the playoffs. Old Pro edged DFJ, 4-3, on Saturday night to keep its playoff hopes alive.
Goetz Bros (8-5), which took a 7-0 forfeit win over Guy Plumbing (3-10) on Saturday, appears in with a game left on its slate. Goetz was downed 18-10 by Ada's Cafe (7-6) on Sunday. The two teams play once more.
Alhouse Realty made a strong pitch to be included in the postseason with a 5-2 victory over Ada's Saturday morning. Alhouse starter Eric Flores fanned five batters in four innings, while Zach Rosner pitched well in relief for Alhouse. Rosner excelled at the plate with three hits, including a pair of doubles. Dean Casey and Sam Lee pitched well in relief for Ada's, who tallied two runs late to make a game of it.
Alhouse (8-5) followed that up with a 4-2 win over DFJ on Sunday.
The Oaks took advantage of a first-inning error in the outfield to get the jump on Menlo Chevron, which was missing four starters for various reasons.
Paul Thie started the game with a double into right-center. Thie eventually scored on a ground out by Cameron Vaughan. After Daniel Rabello was hit by a pitch with two out, Ransom Soderberg stroked a single to left, scoring Nicholas Melvin and Rabello, who had swiped second base. All of the runs were unearned.
"We dropped a fly ball and it's hard to beat a good team when you do that," Menlo Chevron manager Vasken Guiragossian said. "All the teams are so close. Had we won that game, we would have been in first place with The Oaks."
A unique double play in the fifth inning plated another run for The Oaks. With Hyunwoo Roh on at third and Vaughan on at first, Rabello lined out to center field with Vaughan heading for second on the pitch. The throw came in from the outfield in an attempt to double-up Vaughan, who retreated toward first. However, Roh scored before Chevron could get the force out on Vaughan to complete the double play. The run was allowed to score because Vaughan didn't have to leave first base to begin with.
Vaughan, who seemed to be involved in a lot of the action, singled in two runs in the top of the seventh to pad The Oaks' lead. Melvin and Roh, who had both singled, scored on the single through the box.
Chevron got its run in the bottom of the seventh when Jackson Bundy was plunked in the helmet with the bases juiced, scoring Peter Oh. The fuel-injected Chevron bench chanted, "RBI! RBI!" for good measure.
The game ended on a 6-4-3 double play, the third twin-killing of that ilk The Oaks recorded in the game.
Chevron center fielder Will Robins had a highlight reel catch in the second inning when he took extra bases away from Adrian Contreras, who drove one about 365 feet away from home plate. Robins turned around while backpedaling to make a sparkling grab.
The game took a scary turn on two occasions in the top of the fourth. Ryan Gilligan of The Oaks fouled a ball that ricocheted back into his face, but he stayed in the game. Two pitches later, Chevron starter Bennett Norman hurt his arm on a pitch, grimacing in pain, and had to exit the contest.
Thie, a 14-year-old league age, pitched five innings of shutout ball to get the win. Chevron mustered just three hits for the game, two coming off Thie.
"My fastball and curve were working well," said Thie, a sophomore at Palo Alto High. "Our defense helped my pitching. We had great defense."
Oaks manager Rick Farr, two years removed from a league title, noted his club's clutch hitting in the win over Chevron.
"We had four two-out RBI," said Farr, in his 28th season. "We haven't been getting those this year. Those were clutch. Our pitching has been good and our defense was good again."