The Palo Alto 13-year-old all-stars can be credited with a moral victory against perennial Babe Ruth League power Tri-Valley on Saturday. Palo Alto was dealt a 5-0 loss at Mountain View's McKelvey Park, but Palo Alto manager Ron Fried deemed the glass to be half-full.
"Tri-Valley has the reputation as being the team to beat in Babe Ruth, in general," Fried said. "Not just locally or regionally, but nationally. Their 13-year-old team won the World Series last year. We knew coming in this would be the toughest game we were going to have to play. The reality is, we hung with them and didn't get 10-run ruled."
Aidan Everett threw three shutout innings in relief.
In the 14-year-old tournament, Palo Alto topped Sonoma, 6-3, on Saturday at Clark Field in Woodland. The 14 all-stars meet Tri-Valley at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The Palo Alto 13s yielded an unearned run in the bottom of the first inning, committing the first of two errors.
The catalyst for Tri-Valley, based in the San Ramon-Danville area, was leadoff hitter Nick Costello, who was the winning pitcher. Costello was on base his first three times up, collecting a pair of singles, scoring two runs with four stolen bases. Tri-Valley stole seven bases as a team.
Luca Rossi had two hits, driving in three runs, while touching home plate twice.
Palo Alto was handcuffed by Costello, who had a roundhouse curve to go with a good fastball. Costello, a left-hander, picked a runner off first base in the second inning.
Costello, who fanned six batters in five innings, had a no-hitter through three innings when Dean Casey blooped a single to right. The throw from right went into the first base dugout, allowing Casey to take second base on the error. Jonah Elisofon drew a walk, then Casey and Elisofon teamed up for a double-steal.
With one out, William Pires walked to fill the bases. Costello fielded a dribbler in front of the mound to force Casey out at home, preserving the shutout. The inning ended on a strikeout and Palo Alto had missed its opportunity.
JP Murphy worked the final two frames for Tri-Valley, giving up a walk to Zander Darby and Roland Martinez Luna in the seventh, whiffing four Palo Alto batters.
"That was the best pitching we've seen in the four tournament games we've played," Fried said. "We haven't seen a lefty before this game. He had the control with the hook and the drop."
Darby pitched well for Palo Alto, despite allowing 10 hits.
"That's the best Zander has pitched all year," Fried said. "He hung in there and threw strikes."
Palo Alto 14s
Palo Alto rode the arms of Jack Dellenbach and Aidan Everett to the victory over Sonoma. Everett threw three shutout innings, allowing a hit, to save Dellenbach's gritty start.
Paul Thie drew a walk to open the contest, stole second, went to third on an error and scored when Ryan Mo grounded out to the shortstop.
Clark Mellen opened the second inning with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Charlie Geisler singled.
Sonoma got a run back in the second and that's the way things stood until Palo Alto added a pair in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Gianluca Shinn, and again when Benjamin Civjan scoring after he stole third and Sonoma botched the play.
Owen Crevelt beat out an infield single to open the inning and Civjan followed with another single ahead of the sacrifice fly.
Sonoma opened its half of the fifth with three consecutive singles and an error made it 4-3 before Everett, who retired seven of the last eight batters he faced, took over pitching duties.
Giesler and Everett each doubled in the sixth and Civjan scored on a wild pitch in the seventh.
District 52 Majors
Menlo-Atherton's run in the Little League all-star tournament came to an end Saturday in a 13-3 setback to Hillsborough.
M-A dropped its first game of the tournament and then went on a five-game winning streak to reach the Final Four.
Little League 10-11 tournament
Colin Lee hit a grand slam in the fifth to help give Palo Alto a lead but five unearned runs in the top of the sixth ended PA National's run through the District 52 tournament at Marina Park in Belmont on Saturday as Foster City won the offensive slugfest, 12-9.
Elias Duncan and Rowan Felsch also homered and each drove in a pair of runs for Palo Alto.