Neither team had much room for error in this one, and fortunately for the Alpine-West Menlo all-stars, they had just the right man on the mound.
Max Courson threw a complete-game shutout, striking out 13, and singled home the eventual winning run in Alpine's 2-0 victory over Foster City in the District 52 Little League Majors (12-under) Tournament on Sunday at Middlefield Park in Palo Alto.
It was the opener for Alpine, which drew a first-round bye on Saturday. It will now face San Mateo American or San Carlos on Thursday at 7 p.m. in the winners' bracket.
The 13 strikeouts was a season-high for Courson, who singled home Matt Wolf in the third for all the offense he would need. Isaac Hutchinson then scored on a sacrifice fly by Ronan Cutright to provide the final margin.
"My fastball was working well," said Courson, whose dad, Mike Courson, played high school baseball for Menlo-Atherton. "I got two strikeouts on curves, though."
Courson credits a new attitude of sorts for his recent success.
"My dad and my coaches have taught me not to let things get to me," he said. "When you don't let situations bother you emotionally, then things work out a lot better."
Courson wasn't in much trouble on Sunday. He only needed four outs from his defense -- the rest were strikeouts, including striking out the side in the fifth.
His only trouble came in the sixth, when he gave up a leadoff single. Then with two out, a Foster City batter hit a sharp comebacker to the mound, and Courson stumbled, landing in the dirt. But he fielded the ball in his midsection, and from a seated position threw a bullet to first for the final out.
In Saturday's opening round, it was Hillsborough over Menlo-Atherton 7-1; San Mateo National over Pacifica American 4-2; San Carlos over Redwood City 21-0; San Mateo American over Belmont-Redwood Shores 12-1; and Foster City over Pacifica National 10-6.
On Sunday, San Mateo American beat San Carlos 6-2, and Palo Alto downed Hillsborough 11-3.