The stage was set for a dramatic ending. Either Palo Alto was going to complete an unlikely late-inning rally or defending state champs Tri-Valley was going to hang on by its fingernails. The fingernails, in the form of a nice catch in center field, won.
Tri-Valley's 14-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team beat Palo Alto, 5-3, Sunday at the state tournament in Woodland in a contest that was decided on the last pitch.
Palo Alto was down to its final out in the top of the seventh. Owen Crevelt stepped in and drilled a single into center field, the first hit allowed by Tri-Valley's Max Masajilo, who was in his second inning of relief.
Masajilo hit Benjamin Civjan with a pitch and suddenly things looked good with Palo Alto slugger Ryan Mo coming to the plate.
Tri-Valley went to its closer, Joey Battilega, who compiled an ERA of 0.62 on Amador Valley High's freshman team in the spring.
Mo hit a solid drive into center field that would have at least tied the game had it fallen, but Masajilo, who had just changed places with Battilega, was able to track it down.
Tri-Valley gets two days off before playing again on Wednesday. Palo Alto gets right back to it on Monday, meeting Vallejo at 4 p.m. Palo Alto needs to win three games to reach the first championship game on Friday.
Palo Alto, which out-hit Tri-Valley, 8-4, trailed 4-0, with no outs in the bottom of the third and a runner on second.
PA's left fielder Aidan Everett speared a line drive and doubled off the runner at second, with Trevor Leon taking the throw, for a momentum-changing double play.
Civjan and Mo each singled to spark a two-run, two-out rally in the fourth. Everett followed with a double to plate both runners.
The teams exchanged unearned runs to set up the dramatic finish.
Gianluca Shinn and Mo combined to allow two earned runs on four hits with three strikeouts and five walks.