The Baylands Athletic Center staged two contrasting games in the opening night of the Palo Alto Babe Ruth League City Championship on Friday.
The evening started with a no-hitter by right-hander Hyunwoo Roh, who delivered a gem for the top-seeded Oaks in a 2-0 victory over No. 4 Menlo Chevron. The nightcap had No. 3 Ada's Cafe frolicking to a 12-5 win over No. 2 Alhouse Realty.
The Oaks and Ada's were meet Saturday morning at 11 a.m., while Menlo Chevron and Alhouse clash in an elimination game at 2 p.m.
Roh was a walk away from a perfect game, issuing a free pass in the fifth inning. Oaks shortstop Paul Thie helped preserve the no-no with a fine play on a slow roller up the middle in the top of the seventh, throwing the runner out at first for the second out of the inning. Roh got the final out of the game on a comebacker.
"Paul Thie made a great play," Roh said. "He picked me up in the last inning."
Roh had to prevail in a pitchers duel with Spencer Rojahn, who went the distance for defending champ Chevron. The Oaks had just four hits.
"Spencer Rojahn is really good," Roh said. "I just thought about pitching. I wanted to be unpredictable and used all six of my pitches. I wasn't throwing that hard, so I tried to make them hit the ball."
Roh recorded just two strikeouts, a fact noted by Oaks manager Rick Farr.
"Roh got really good defense," Farr said. "For this level, if you can get a no-hitter with just two strikeouts, it means your defense was playing really well. Thie must have had six or seven assists. Roh had the walk, then we turned the double play."
Thie knocked in Jack Baumgarten for a run in the third inning. Cameron Vaughan led off the fourth with a double, then was pinch-run for by Alex Melvin. A Colin Giffen single advanced Melvin to third, whereupon he scored on an error.
"We have to win the whole thing now," Roh said after the game.
Ada's Cafe pounced on the Alhouse starter in the first inning, scoring six runs on six hits, sending 12 batters to the plate.
Zander Darby started the deluge with an infield single, then was wild-pitched to second base. Nolan Doyle laid down a sac bunt, which was compounded by an error, allowing Darby to score. A single to left by George Welch was followed by a sac fly RBI to right by Reece Lindquist.
Diego Bascara drove in a run with a double down the right field line. Aidan Everett traded places with Bascara, doubling to left for another run. Kyle Hartmanis walked, then stole one of 11 bases for Ada's. Hartmanis eventually scored on a ground out by Dean Casey, who had a pair of RBI.
"That was the first time we swung the bat that well, especially early in the game," Ada's manager Ron Fried said. "We said, if we can put pressure on them early, we'd see how they'd respond. It has been a struggle for us all year to get the offense going. Our offense set the tempo. We barreled up on everything."
The outburst staked Ada's starter Kylen Liu to a large lead, which he never surrendered. Liu went 4 2-3 innings to pick up the win. Casey, showcasing an old-fashioned, roundhouse curveball, went the rest of the way without yielding a run.
"We had pitchers who had thrown just one game the whole season," Fried said. "Kylen had thrown just one time this year. Dean had only thrown one time in game. The job they did stepping up was amazing."
Lindquist and Everett scored three runs apiece, while Hartmanis had two hits, including a double, driving in three runs.
"We had a good, solid performance," said Everett, who will be a freshman at Gunn High in the fall. "We have put in a lot of hard work. The last five or six games, we've come together as a team."
Alhouse catcher Michael Panitchpakdi went 3-for-3, doubling and scoring in the third inning after he had reached third on a delayed steal.
Panitchpakdi singled in the fifth inning, plating Galileo Defendi-Cho, who had doubled with one out. Panitchpakdi then stole second before scoring on a single by Louis Levitan, who had two RBI for Alhouse.
Ada's Cafe had to win a showdown game against Goetz Bros on Wednesday just to qualify for the tournament. The game was scheduled after Ada's and Goetz played to a 2-2 tie in 10 innings on Monday. That game was discounted. Bottom line, Ada's has had to play more pressure games, more innings than the other three teams in the field.
"I was talking to the team about how Alhouse, in 2012, had to win all these games in a row just to get to the playoffs," Fried said. "Then they rolled through the playoffs. We've played seven games in 10 days. We're playing with house money. We have no pressure on us. The guys are playing loose."