Schoof knew he needed a veteran to step up and produce. That veteran was senior Freddy Avis.
The Palo Alto native was the star of the show, overpowering on the mound and at the plate as the Knights grabbed a 10-1 victory and control of the WBAL race.
Avis, who has signed a national letter of intent to attend Stanford in the fall, struck out 15 Gators while only allowing three hits and four walks.
At the plate, Avis hit a grand slam in a five-run second inning and a two-run triple in the fifth as Menlo jumped out on top and never looked back.
The Knights (3-0, 11-8), hit by a series of injuries that have cost them starters Dylan Mayer, Adam Greenstein and Mikey Diekroeger in the past week, got key contributions from sophomore Graham Stratford, who walked three times, including with the bases loaded in the second for the first run and right before Avis's grand slam.
The injuries forced Schoof to start three sophomores. Stratford had started a frosh-soph game on Tuesday.
Menlo junior catcher Austin Marcus was again stellar behind the plate and contributed two hits, including a double. Senior Carson Badger added two RBI on two hits.
The Knights return to action on Friday when they host King's Academy at 4 p.m.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Isaac Feldstein had four hits, including a double and home run, and drove in four runs to pace Palo Alto to a 14-2 win over host Saratoga on Wednesday.
The Vikings (9-1-1, 17-3-1) ripped 13 hits and committed no errors while remaining a half-game behind division-leading Los Altos (10-1). Kevin Kannappan picked up the pitching win, improving to 5-1 as the Falcons were held to just three hits.
The teams will meet again Friday at Palo Alto (3:30 p.m.).
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton bounced back from its first league loss last Friday to beat host El Camino in eight innings, 7-5.
Nick Lange picked up the pitching win while improving to 6-0. He struck out eight. Sophomore Erik Amundson had two hits and two RBI as the Bears improved to 5-2 in league (15-5 overall).
M-A will host El Camino on Friday at 3:15 p.m.
In another WBAL game, Pinewood (1-2, 7-4) picked up its first league win with a 7-6 triumph over host Harker in eight innings. Owen Lewis had two hits and two RBI in addition to scoring a pair of runs for the Panthers.
On Tuesday, Gunn got a key hit and some help from a sunny day, playing errorless ball and riding a solid pitching effort by Ryan Gorman to post a 2-1 victory over visiting Monta Vista in SCVAL El Camino Division action.
Gunn's eighth-straight victory moved the Titans to 7-2 (13-5 overall) and gave them a 1 1/2-game lead over second-place Fremont (5-3) with six games remaining. Monta Vista (4-4) dropped to third place.
Gunn's big hit was a triple by senior Graham Fisher in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Titans trailing, 1-0. Scott Ziebelman pinch-ran for Fisher and, with one out, scored the tying run when Chris Rea's grounder was misplayed.
After a flyout, Gunn's Jake Verhulp lofted a fly ball to center field, which was lost in the sun and dropped for a single — with Rea scoring from first on the play.
Verhulp finished with three hits, as did Fisher while Gorman added two and tossed a complete-game six-hitter with five strikeouts.
Palo Alto grabbed sole possession of first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 200-204 victory over rival Gunn on Tuesday at Palo Alto Municipal Golf Course. The teams entered the dual match tied for first place, but the Vikings picked up three strokes over the first two matches and held on for the important victoryh.
Sam Neithammer led the Vikings (9-1) with an even-par 36 while Patrick Fuery shot 39. Clark Schmutz, playing in the No. 6 spot, came through with a 41 to match teammate Grant Raffel. John Knowles' 43 wrapped things up. Gunn (6-2) was led by Avinash Sharma (38) and Jayshree Sarathy (39).
Palo Alto and Gunn will meet for a second time next Wednesday, with the Titans' needing a victory to force a co-title. The SCVAL Tournament will be Monday, April 30 and Tuesday May 1.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton captured the regular-season title with a 204-214 victory over host Carlmont at Crystal Springs in Hillsborough on Wednesday. The Bears (11-1) were led by senior Max Culhane and junior Matt Tinyo, each of whom shot a 1-over 37. Senior Travis Anderson had a 3-over 39, senior David McNamara shot 45 and senior Filip Grehn finished with a 46. Next up for M-A will be the PAL Individual Tournament.
Anderson shot a 1-under 35 to earn medalist honors and help M-A post victories over Hillsdale and Aragon on Tuesday at Sharon Heights Country Club.
In the WBAL, Sacred Heart Prep sophomore Bradley Knox was the medalist for the third time this week as the Gators ruined Menlo School's perfect season with a 195-202 victory on Wednesday at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club.
Knox recorded three birdies in his up-and-down round of 1-over par 36. Menlo junior Andrew Buchanan shared medalist honors with a steady one- birdie, two-bogey round. With the win, the Gators (6-2) squared the home-and-home series with the Knights (7-1).
Menlo School broke a tie in the second quarter and never looked back in a 14-12 victory over host Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday in an important SCVAL De Anza Division match.
Rebounding from three losses at the tough St. Ignatius tournament last week, the Knights (5-3, 7-6) avenged an earlier league loss to the Gators (7-1, 9-2) and knocked them out of sole possession of first place.
Menlo prevented SHP from grabbing control of the division as junior Nick Schultz fueled the attack with six goals and assisted on three more. Despite being a target of the SHP defense, Menlo junior Wiley Osborne still managed three goals and two assists. Junior Connor Paterson scored twice and senior Pete Foster added another.
"They tried locking Wiley off for most of the game — we knew that would happen — so everyone else stepped up and became aggressive like we have practiced," Menlo coach Todd Blumbergs said.
Menlo senior Ryan Grzejka tallied a pair of goals and an assist. Junior Connor Stastny and sophomore Jack Ferguson added assists and junior Luc McNally recorded six saves.
Frankie Hattler led SHP with three goals and three assists while Noah Kawasaki added three goals and one assist. Brian White finished with three goals.
Getting seven goals and three assists from junior Michaela Michael, Menlo School remained unbeaten in the WBAL Foothill Division with a 23-12 triumph over host Burlingame on Tuesday. Brooke Bullington added five goals and two assists as the Knights improved to 5-0 in league (8-4 overall).
In their first match back from spring break, the Knights grabbed a 12-4 halftime lead and rolled from there. Ali Kim produced three goals and one assist and Elyse Adler added three goals. The midfield crew of Michael, Bullington, Adler, Kim and Kacie Madeira accounted for 19 goals and 22 of Menlo's 25 successful draw controls.
Menlo will host Menlo-Atherton on Friday at 4 p.m.
The Bears got two goals in overtime from Becca Higgitt in a 19-17 victory over Castilleja in WBAL Foothill Division action on Monday. Higgitt had tied the match at 17 with four seconds to play after taking a long pass from Emily Carlson, who had won a loose ball at midfield with 10 seconds remaining.
The Bears (3-2, 5-4) trailed by 15-12 with 1:50 left to play before a great save by M-A goalie Neeka Nazhand was cleared to Sidney Novak-Federmeyer and led to a goal. The Bears then added a fastbreak goal to make it 15-14 to set up Higgit's tying goal.
Higgitt finished with a season-high 10 goals while Martha Harding scored 10 goals for Castilleja (2-3, 7-3).
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto suffered its first loss in league action this season in a 15-13 setback to host St. Francis on Tuesday. The defending league champion Lancers avenged a loss to Paly in the teams' first meeting.
The match was tied at halftime, 7-7, and for one final time at 13-13 on a goal by Emy Kelty with less than two minutes remaining. Paly's excitement was shortlived, however, as the Vikings lost the next two draws and the Lancers scored each time.
Kelty finished with three goals for Paly (8-1, 10-3) while Charlotte Biffar and Nina Kelty each added three goals. Layla Memar contributed two goals and one assist.
Menlo-Atherton clinched the PAL Bay Division regular-season title with a 6-1 victory over host Burlingame on Wednesday. The Bears improved to 13-0 in league play (18-2 overall) while improving to 52-0 in regular-season league matches since the end of the 2008 season.
The Bears beat El Camino on Tuesday, 7-0, and topped San Mateo on Monday, 7-0.
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