Meehan gives classic effort for Alpine-West Menlo in loss


The sounds of the late Wilson Pickett's "Mustang Sally" opened Tuesday night's District 52 Little League 10-11-year-old all-stars title game at Marina Field in Belmont.

That seemed to be a good omen for Alpine-West Menlo starter Sal Meehan, who is often referred to by league mates by the Pickett classic.

Facing unbeaten Belmont-Redwood Shores, Meehan gave as much as he could on the mound, but Alpine fell, 10-0, in four innings.

Alpine, which had lost, 12-3, to Belmont-RS on Saturday, had to win to force a showdown game on Wednesday. Alpine was looking for its first 11-year-old district title since 2009.

"We're proud of our kids," Alpine manager Tito Bianchi said. "We lost to one team in the tournament, losing to Belmont twice. They were a better team (today). I'd like to think we could give them a better battle on our best day. Our kids got everything they could out of the tournament, getting to the final of the district."

Meehan got out of a jam in the bottom of the first, striking out two batters and stranding a pair of runners.

Belmont threatened in the second inning after the first of two doubles by Collin O'Driscoll placed runners at second and third with one out. Meehan escaped unscathed, getting a fly out to right and a ground out to shortstop John Rogers, who made a strong throw to get the runner at first.

"Sal was a gamer," Bianchi said. "He threw 60 pitches and gave us everything he could."

After getting doubled-up in the first inning on a base running error, Alpine had a solid chance to score in the top of the second inning, but couldn't. Rogers drew a walk, then moved to second on a single by Sam Norris.

Meehan grounded into a fielder's choice play, then stole second base as Rogers held at third. Belmont hurler Lucas Kramer fanned the next batter to end the threat.

Alpine's Evan Eyre singled with one out in the third for his second hit of the game. Eyre moved up on a wild pitch, setting up a wild sequence. George Zaharias lined one in foul territory down the right field line.

Belmont right fielder Zach McLaughlin hustled over to make a spectacular diving catch. After hesitating, Eyre advanced to third base.

Belmont manager Andy Eliopoulos argued Eyre didn't tag up at second base, but Eyre was ruled safe after a conference by the three-man umpiring crew.

Noah Palmer was hit by a pitch with two out in the top of the fourth. And when Meehan's fly to center was dropped for Belmont's lone error, Alpine had runners at second and third. Kramer fanned the next batter for his fourth strikeout of the game.

O'Driscoll had three hits and a pair of RBI to lead Belmont. McLaughlin had two hits, including a double, while Kramer had a pair of singles.

Belmont scored four unearned runs in the third inning, adding six runs in the bottom of the fourth. The final run was unearned due to a throwing error to try to get the force at home plate, one of three errors committed by Alpine.

"Belmont is a deep club and they play really clean baseball," Bianchi said. "You never want to lose. But, if you lose to a team that plays it the right way, it takes a little sting out of the loss. They caught everything and we didn't. We had men on base early and couldn't get that one hit. That's how so many of these games happen."

Alpine advanced to the title game with a 6-1 victory over Foster City on Monday. Zaharias went 5 1/3 innings, yielding one run on two hits, fanning nine batters. Charlie Knoll helped out Zaharias in the third inning with a fine running catch in left field.

Sam Norris and Jake Bianchi drove in runs for a 2-0 Alpine lead. A triple by Zaharias aided a four-run fifth inning. Rogers added a ground-rule double.

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Like this comment
Posted by TJ
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 13, 2016 at 11:15 am

Congrats to Alpine for a great run. And many thanks to John Reid for his devotion to youth sports.

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