"The season as a whole was fine," said Palo Alto head coach Bob Budelli. "We had to mix and match some of the kids, but the ones that came out were really hungry to play. They got some at-bats and some exposure and they did a nice job."
East Sacramento's Reid Nixon hit a two-run single just past the reach of Palo Alto shortstop Troy Siegler for a 4-1 lead in the second inning.
Palo Alto starting pitcher Andrew Tam got himself into early trouble when he gave up a double to Nixon, the first batter of the game for Sacramento. Logan Appino hit a double to left field over Aron Ecoff's head, giving Sacramento the 2-0 lead after the first inning.
Palo Alto had its shot to put some runs on the board in the first inning with the bases loaded, but couldn't capitalize. Palo Alto left eight men on base total, twice with the bases loaded.
"The big bats came up but nothing happened," said Budelli. "It just wasn't meant to be."
Palo Alto got one back in the second inning when Angus Stayte roped a base hit up the middle, scoring Brian Tracy from second base and trimming the lead to 2-1.
East Sacramento gained more ground on Palo Alto in the fourth inning as Palo Alto made three errors that led to two runs and a 6-1 lead for Sacramento.
"It's tough when the kids are giving it their all out on the
mound and they get errors behind them," said Budelli. "We're 15 years old, we don't expect those kind of errors."
The bats were silent after the third inning as Palo Alto couldn't account for a single hit in the last four innings. East Sacramento starting pitcher Coulter Bristow allowed only four hits and one earned run.
"Today was real flat," said Budelli. "Andrew Tam did a nice job today; but the bats -- we couldn't get two hits in a row today."
In the sixth inning Palo Alto had the bases loaded again and had a chance the cut into the lead, but couldn't find a clutch bat and the lead remained 6-1.
Said Budelli: "I told the kids, 'The toughest part about all-stars — Little League and Babe Ruth — is the last game was always a loss, but remember what got you here. Remember the journey that got you here — remember the positive things.' "
Palo Alto had advanced to Monday's game with an 11-1 victory over Northern Solano on Sunday. Palo Alto opened the tournament with a 12-5 loss to Tri-Valley on Saturday.
In the win over Northern Solano, Palo Alto exploded in the bottom of the sixth, finishing with Tam's bases-loaded triple that gave his team the 10-run, mercy-rule victory. Tam also had a clutch two-out, two-run single in the fourth to put Palo Alto ahead, 2-0.
Winning pitcher Ben Simon also contributed at the plate with a triple and a double. Nico Rolandi, Stayte and Siegler all had two hits each.
Meanwhile, the long journey has come to an end for the Palo Alto Babe Ruth 14-year-old all-stars, in so many ways.
Not only did the team travel 2-3 hours each way to Woodland (northwest of Sacramento) to play six games over a seven-day period, logging an estimated 1,400 miles, but the all-stars' final game — perhaps appropriately — was stretched to nine innings, as well.
When all was said and done, Palo Alto saw its season — and travels — end in a 4-3 loss to Tri-Valley on Friday night in the championship game of the NorCal State Tournament at Clark Field. Had Palo Alto won, it would have forced a second game to determine who advanced to next week's regional in Surprise, Ariz.
"It was a wild one," said Palo Alto scorekeeper Chris Lillios. "Both teams refused to roll over and give up. No errors on either side . . . each team manufacturing one run at a time in an inning. A great, well-played battle."
The Palo Alto 13s reached the title game before falling to Tri-Valley, 10-0, last week.
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