Menlo asserts itself into league race | April 12, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - April 12, 2019

Menlo asserts itself into league race

Local schools are all capable of playing in the postseason

by Rick Eymer

The various local high school league baseball races seemed to be headed in one direction last week. This week, races have become jumbled and seemingly going in every which direction.

Take Menlo School, for example. The Knights were nearly left on the junk pile after losing their first two Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division games. Since then, though, Menlo has become very much a hot topic.

Senior Justin Nam helped make that happen with one swing of the bat on Wednesday. He'll get a chance to do his part from the mound on Friday when the Knights (9-4, 3-2) play Carlmont on Friday at 4 p.m. in Atherton, with the chance to overtake the Scots (9-7, 4-2) for a share of second place behind PAL Bay leader Burlingame (8-2, 6-1).

Nam hit a grand slam in Menlo's 15-8 victory over Carlmont, the high point of the Knights' sixth consecutive victory. In fact, Menlo hasn't lost since dropping its first two PAL games to Sacred Heart Prep.

Wednesday's victory emphasized that the race is far from over. The Knights still have nine PAL contests remaining to play, plenty of time for upward mobility.

Menlo responsed to its early setbacks, on the heels of several games lost to the weather, by coming back and sweeping The King's Academy, last year's PAL Ocean Division.

TKA has made its presence felt in the Bay Division, beating the defending PAL Bay champion Gators (9-8-1, 4-2) twice and handing Burlingame its only league loss.

Sacred Heart Prep snapped out of its three-game losing streak with an 11-8 nonleague victory over Santa Teresa on Wednesday. The Gators have a home game against Pacific Grove at 3 p.m. Saturday and a game at Pacific Grove on Wednesday before returning to league action on April 24.

Palo Alto (11-5, 6-3) was riding a 10-game winning streak and has since lost three of four, including Wednesday's 8-1 loss to Wilcox in the SCVAL De Anza Division. The Vikings, in third place, look to snap back Friday when they play the Chargers in Santa Clara at 4 p.m. Friday.

Gunn (7-6, 7-1 entering Thursday's game against Fremont) is at the top of the SCVAL El Camino Division standings thanks in large part to getting the big hit or clutch pitching.

Eric Epstein doubled home two runs in the bottom of the seventh on Tuesday to lead the Titans to a 4-3 victory over Fremont.

Menlo-Atherton (6-8, 5-2) also seems to win at the right time to remain in contention in the PAL Ocean Division. The Bears knocked off San Mateo on Tuesday and was hoping to sweep the series Thursday. M-A has next week off from league play.

Woodside (6-5, 2-3) lost to Sequoia on Tuesday and was looking to split its series Thursday. The Wildcats play El Camino on Tuesday at 4 p.m. in South San Francisco.

Meanwhile in Belmont, Menlo's Julien Hernandez (4-2) earned the win, allowing seven hits, striking out four and walking one in 3 2/3 innings. Fellow junior Kiefer Lord came in for the save, his third of the season.

Juniors Max Chou and Ian Collins each collected four hits. Nam and junior Luca Espinosa each added a pair.

The third inning proved to be the turning point for the Knights. Espinosa led off with a single and JC Ng and Charlie Giesler both walked to load the bases with none out. Nam followed by blasting a shot to deep left, giving Menlo a 5-0 lead.

Carlmont scored five times in the bottom of the fourth, but Menlo had already took a 7-0 lead with two runs when Max Chou and Nam came around on a balk and wild pitch in the top half of the inning.

In nonleague action, Reece Lindquist hit a home run and drove in four runs as Sacred Heart Prep topped Santa Teresa 11-8 in a nonleague slugfest Wednesday in San Jose.

Lindquist's home run was a solo shot and inside the park to finish the scoring. He did drive in the first run with fielder's choice in the first inning and then added two RBIs in the fourth.

Yianni Gardner doubled and drove in two runs. Ronan Donnelly added three hits, including a double, and drove in a run. Aidan Macaluso also had two hits and drove in a run.

Ryan Mo, Will Moldow and Teddy Purcell also drove in runs for the Gators (9-8-1), who welcome San Ramon Valley to Atherton for a 3 p.m. nonleague game Saturday.

Palo Alto has been outscored 11-1 in its last two games but has a pitching staff that can turn things around.

Palo Alto is three games back of league-leader Los Altos and a half-game behind Los Gatos. Wilcox can overtake the Vikings with a win Friday in Santa Clara.

Aidan Berger ended the Chargers' no-hit bid with a one-out single in the fourth. Matthew Caren followed with a walk and eventually scored the only run on an error.

Paly, which drew six walks, had runners on in all but the second and fifth innings and could not take advantage.

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