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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Spotlight on pitchers as season winds down Spotlight on pitchers as season winds down (May 08, 2002)@sub12:SHP's Grewal throws no-hitter, Menlo's Seawell strikes out 17 and M-A's Browne helps win first outright title since '57

by Keith Peters

Ashton Grewal of Sacred Heart Prep pitched a complete-game no-hitter with 13 strikeouts in an 8-0 victory against last-place Valley Christian-Dublin.

One day later, Menlo School's Brett Seawell retired 17 straight batters and wound up with 17 strikeouts in eight innings to spark the Knights to a 10-6 win over Redwood Christian, moving Menlo into sole possession of first place in the Private Schools Athletic League.

While those two individual efforts certainly are hard to top, Menlo-Atherton High's team effort was the best of a standout week as the Bears clinched their first outright title in 45 years.

The Bears blanked Sequoia, 5-0, at Flood Park in Menlo Park last Thursday to win the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division title. It's the first outright team championship for the Bears since 1957. Menlo-Atherton did earn a co-title in 1964.

The Bears did get their own excellent pitching effort from senior Eddie Browne, who pitched six innings of no-hit ball, struck out nine, walked just one and banged out two doubles as Menlo-Atherton improved to 11-1 in its division (20-2 overall) and clinched its long-awaited outright championship with two games to play.

M-A coach Joe Fontana, however, knows there's still plenty of work ahead.

"We're not done," Fontana said. "We'll be facing some incredible teams in CCS, but we want to win six more games."

By winning the Ocean Division title, Menlo-Atherton earned an automatic berth in the Central Coast Section playoffs that begin May 15 for Division I teams. Division II play begins May 16 while Division III action starts May 17.

Browne will play an important role for M-A in the postseason after compiling a 9-0 pitching record thus far. The mark tied a school record for most wins in a single season.

Browne could have finished with a no-hitter, but he was forced to hand the ball to reliever T.C. Ostrander to finish the game. Rules prohibit a pitcher from throwing more than 10 innings in a 72-hour span, and Browne had thrown 3 1/3 innings in Tuesday's win over Sequoia. Otherwise, Browne might have had his first no-hitter of the season.

In addition to finishing up the game and allowing the only hit with two out in the seventh, Ostrander crushed a solo homer in the fourth for the eventual game-winning run.

In Sacred Heart Prep's 8-0 Private Schools Athletic League win over VC-Dublin, Grewal was in complete control. He walked just two in seven innings as the Gators improved to 8-3 in league (10-10 overall) and kept their slim CCS playoff hopes alive. Scott James had three hits and drove in two runs to spark the Gators' offensive attack.

Menlo (10-1, 16-8), meanwhile, set up a showdown on Wednesday with Sacred Heart Prep by knocking Redwood Christian out of first place last Friday. After giving up six runs in the first two innings, Seawell settled down and retired the next 17 hitters.

Menlo broke through with four runs in the top of the ninth after the teams had battled to a 6-6 deadlock after seven innings. With runners on second and third, Seawell hit a grounder to second with the infield pulled in. Nathan Adelman, who had reached base on a walk and eventually moved to third, broke to the plate. The throw home got away from the Sequoia catcher and both Menlo runners scored.

Seawell wound up with 17 strikeouts to set up the Knights' title-clinching opportunity this week. Menlo needs only to win two of its final three games to clinch its 12th league title in the past 15 years and make its 15th straight appearance in the CCS playoffs.

Elsewhere, Palo Alto had an opportunity to clinch the SCVAL El Camino Division title on Tuesday when the Vikings hosted second-place Santa Clara.

Paly (13-2, 18-5) went into that contest with a two-game lead and three games remaining in the regular season.

The Vikings moved into position to clinch following a 7-1 victory over Homestead on Saturday. Colby Henard provided most of the firepower with a home run and four RBI.

Jason Kleinhoffer (3-0) won the game in relief.

Gunn clinched a spot in the CCS playoffs with a pair of recent road SCVAL De Anza Division wins.

The Titans (11-5, 14-8) beat host Milpitas, 11-5, as Ricky Navarro collected three doubles and drove in two runs. Jon Dishotsky did not allow an earned run and struck out eight in pitching the complete game.

Greg Matson also pitched a complete game, allowing six hits with six strikeouts, as Gunn beat hosts Saratoga, 5-1, on Friday.

Chris Hacker had four hits and Chris Backer added three hits. Gunn plays at Cupertino on Wednesday.


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