It was home sweet home for Palo Alto 11-12 all-star team

Luke Sousa stole home as part as his offensive production Sunday. Photo by Al Chang.

Luke Sousa spent Sunday morning playing a video game; MLB The Show, to be exact. And as everyone knows, it's pretty easy to steal home in that.

In real life though, it's a little more difficult. Sousa did it, though, in the fourth inning, and also had two hits and some great defensive work, as Palo Alto won its District 52 Little League All-Star opener, 11-3, over Hillsborough.

Palo Alto advances in the winners' bracket of the Majors 12-under tournament to play Thursday at 5 p.m. at Middlefield Park in Palo Alto vs. San Mateo National. Hillsborough drops to the elimination bracket where it will play Wednesday at 5 p.m., also at Middlefield.

Sousa had a triple, single, an RBI and scored three runs as his team handed Hillsborough its first District 52 all-star loss ever. That's right. The current group of Hillsborough players won District 52 titles in both the 10-under and 11-under divisions the past two seasons -- and as 11-U's went undefeated in winning the NorCal State title.

But Palo Alto had control from the start on Sunday. It went up 1-0 in the first inning when Coco VonderHaar doubled, went to third on an infield out and scored on a wild pitch. Paly made it 4-0 in the third on Sousa's run-scoring triple (scoring Cameron Owen), Joey Kessler's groundout and an error.

Sousa's triple was a rare feat: a scorching ground ball through the right side that rolled all the way to the fence.

"Their outfielder took kind of a bad angle to the ball and I knew I could make it to third," said Sousa, an eighth-grader at Fletcher Middle School. "It feels pretty good to win our first all-star game."

Sousa never made it home in that inning however -- he was thrown out when VonderHaar hit a grounder to third, and the Hillsborough third baseman faked a throw to first and instead threw it home.

So the next time he got to third, Sousa tried a different approach.

In the fourth, VonderHaar singled with the bases loaded to score two runs, leaving Sousa on third. Then on a 1-1 count on the next batter, Sousa took off toward the plate on a delayed steal when the catcher was throwing the ball back to the pitcher. He scored easily.

"Our third-base coach called that one," Sousa said. "He noticed that the catcher was lobbing the ball back to the pitcher, and that's all it took.

"I was just telling myself to get the timing right," Sousa said. "It was kind of nice revenge for the other play at home."

VonderHaar was two-for-four with two RBI, and teammate Kanghee Cho had a double and a single. Palo Alto's Dexter Cleveringa made a great play at second base in the sixth, ranging far to his left and pivoting to throw out the runner on a ground ball.

"We all went over to Dexter's house for some BP before the game," VonderHaar said. "He has a batting cage. That helps and we're going to make it a regular thing."

It was a 10-hit afternoon for the winners; all against a team that had never lost in three years of District 52 play (Hillsborough won its first-round game on Saturday, 7-1, over Menlo-Atherton).

Joshua Kao had two singles for Palo Alto and also pitched 4 2/3 innings to get the win. Sousa threw the final 1 1/3 innings, striking out three, for the save.

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1 person likes this
Posted by PA LL Parent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 24, 2019 at 8:34 pm

There you go Palo Alto Little League! A beautiful start to our first ever one league National All Star season.Play Ball!! Go team PA!!!!

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