The Alpine-West Menlo stars came out of the chute strong in Saturday's District 52 Little League Majors tournament game at Ford Field. Pacifica American, a nemesis for Alpine the past three years, had the final say in a 14-4 triumph.
Sebastian Chancellor hit a three-run homer to help Palo Alto American top Redwood City East, 21-2.
In other games involving local teams, Hillsborough beat Palo Alto National, 16-0, and Pacifica National downed Ravenswood, 13-3.
Menlo Atherton stayed alive in the double elimination tournament with a 10-6 victory over Foster City.
Menlo Atherton plays Palo Alto National in an elimination game Sunday at 11:30 a.m. at La Entrada School.
Alpine stays alive in the double-elimination tournament, playing either Half Moon Bay or Redwood City West Saturday at Ford Field at 11:30 a.m.
Things looked bright for Alpine, which played the role of the visitor on its home diamond. Tyler Flynn singled sharply to center field to lead off the top of the first. Drake Riley singled past the first baseman, then Sean Quinton worked a walk to load the bases.
Alpine manager Mark Meyer went to his bench for a pinch-hitter and was rewarded when Alex Lim cracked a two-run double to right-center. A single to center by Ethan Bergan put Alpine up 3-0, just the way Meyer scripted it.
"We swung the bat well," Meyer said. "We got out to an early lead. We hit a lot of ground balls. Some days, you don't catch holes."
Pacifica American pulled to within a run on a two-run homer by Tre Gutierrez in the bottom of the first.
Alpine manufactured its final run in the top of the third inning to go up 4-2. Riley drew a walk, as did Quinton. With one out, Tyler Jones bounded out to second base to drive in Riley.
It was all Pacifica American after that. No. 2 hitter Dillon Arrastio went 4 for 4 with a double, scoring four runs. Joey Gentile swatted a three-run homer in the bottom of the third to give Pacifica American a 5-4 lead. Alpine proceeded to commit two errors in the inning, leading to three unearned runs.
An error in the fourth inning led to two more unearned runs as Pacifica American surged to a 12-4 lead. Gentile had a screaming ground-rule double down the left field line for his fourth RBI of the game.
Three Pacifica American pitchers Justin Milch, Gutierrez and Connor Uter - combined to fan eight batters. Gutierrez was, particularly, impressive, working two-plus innings of shutout ball.
Alpine has faced Pacifica American in the 11's and 10's tournaments, respectively, the past two years. Meyer knew what he was up against.
"That's a great team," Meyer said. "I expect them to be in the hunt. Gutierrez came in and settled them down. He might be the best player in the tournament. He was the star of the tournament last year."
Bergan made a fantastic play at third base when he hustled in for a slow roller with the bases loaded with no out in the fourth inning. Bergan fielded the ball on a dive and shoved it to Flynn for the force out at home.
"We played hard," Meyer said. "It was 14-4 on the scoreboard, but we were a couple of plays away from making a decent game of it. We didn't quit."
"We can come back the next game," the athletic Riley said. "I know we can."