There are seven teams in the PAL Bay Division baseball race this season, five of which will be automatically qualifying for the Central Coast Section playoffs.
While earning one of those berths appears easier than not, determining who gets what is not.
Heading into this week, five teams were separated by just one game. Sixth-place Half Moon Bay and last-place Burlingame, meanwhile, are far from being eliminated.
Menlo-Atherton, which took the field at Burlingame on Monday tied with Menlo School and Terra Nova for first place, left the diamond atop the division following a 4-3 victory.
Erik Amundson hurled a complete-game four-hitter with 11 strikeouts for the Bears (5-2, 13-7), who took a half-game lead over Terra Nova (4-2) and Menlo (4-2) in the Bay Division. Carlmont (3-3) and Sacred Heart Prep (3-3) lurk just 1 1/2 games behind.
Amundson, who now leads the PAL Bay Division in wins (six) and strikeouts (61), walked just two batters while improving his season record to 6-2. For the season, Amundson's strikeout-to-walk ratio is a superb 6.78-to-1, and his ERA is a miserly 1.88.
The senior righthander also had a productive day at the plate, going 2-for-4 (including a triple, his third of the season) and scoring a run. M-A's 10-hit attack also featured 2-for-3 performances from Brett Moriarty and Daniel Kollar-Gasiewski. Moriarty, who raised his season batting average to .426, knocked in a run (his 15th) and scored a run. Designated hitter Kollar-Gasiewski, meanwhile, boosted his batting average to .333 and also scored a run.
Matt McGarry (double), Lawson Joos, Nikolai Tarran, and Jordan Long added hits for the Bears, with Joos also producing a sacrifice-fly RBI.
While M-A has inched ahead, the division still remains tight. That could change quickly as all the top teams face each other this week.
Menlo School (4-2) will visit Sacred Heart Prep (3-3) on Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Gators then will visit Terra Nova (4-2) on Thursday, followed by Menlo hosting Terra Nova on Friday.
Menlo-Atherton, meanwhile, visits Carlmont on Friday at 4 p.m., and will face Menlo next week.
The SCVAL De Anza Division isn't quite as complicated as Los Gatos (9-1) holds a two-game lead over both Wilcox (9-3) and Palo Alto (7-3) while Saratoga (6-6) and Homestead (6-6) are also vying for one of the top four spots in the division playoffs.
Palo Alto can pretty much decide its fate this week, as it takes on Los Gatos twice -- visiting the Wildcats on Wednesday to open the series.
While the Vikings would have to collapse to fall out of the division playoffs, they can force a three-way tie for first place with a sweep. A split likely means a third-place finish and a date with Wilcox to open the postseason.
The Chargers swept the Vikings in their head-to-head meetings. Wilcox has only two games with Los Altos next week to wrap up its regular season, but needs help in order to improve upon a second- place finish.
On Monday, Gunn snapped its 18-game losing streak with a 6-5 win over visiting Lynbrook in a nonleague game. The Titans (2-19) last won on Feb. 28.
Gunn jumped out to an early 5-1 lead after three innings thanks to the timely hitting of freshman Charlie Racz (two hits, three RBI), David Schwardt (two hits) and Josh Radin (two hits). The Titans also got some solid pitching from junior starter Justin Wenig.
Lynbrook rallied from its early deficit to tie the game with three runs in the top of the sixth. Gunn then got the winning run in the bottom of the inning on Schwardt's second hit of the game.
Gunn reliever Raviv Levens set the Vikings down in order in the seventh to finally give Gunn something to celebrate.
Ann Tafolla has resigned her post as head coach of the Sacred Heart Prep girls. SHP Athletic Diretor Frank Rodriguez is conducting a search for a new coach. Tafolla guided the Gators to a 13-13 record this past season.
First-place Palo Alto (11-0) and second-place Gunn (10-1) will tee off today to decide the SCVAL De Anza Division regular-season title at Santa Teresa Golf Course in San Jose.
The Vikings remained unbeaten on Monday with a 195-218 victory over Homestead at the par-35 Sunnyvale Municipal Golf Course. Matt Lewis had four birdies and three bogeys for Paly to earn medalist honors with a 1-under 34. Patrick Fuery shot 39, Henry Gordon a 40 and Alex Hwang joined with Sam Niethammer with 41s.
Elsewhere, Sacred Heart Prep shot 382 and finished third at the 41st annual Aptos Invitational at the par-71 Seascape Golf Club on Monday. Mitty won the team title with a 370 score with R.L. Stevenson second with 371 strokes.
SHP senior Bradley Knox had a 2-over 73 with six birdies, but he struggled on the greens. Derek Ackerman shot 74, Bradley Keller a 76, Taylor Oliver a 78 and Ryan Galvin an 81.
The Gators will take on rival Menlo School on Wednesday at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club to decide the West Bay Athletic League regular-season title. Both teams have matches on Tuesday.
Sacred Heart Prep will face its toughest test of the season on Wednesday when it travels to face Amador Valley at 7 p.m.
Amador Valley (12-1) is ranked No. 1 in the state and No. 3 in the West Regional while the Gators (10-4) are No. 21 in the state.
Sacred Heart Prep has hired Allison Magner to replace Damien Hardy as head coach. Hardy left his post following a loss in the CCS Division IV playoffs, ending a 21-11 season.
Magner is a former head women's volleyball coach at Academy of Arts University in San Francisco.