Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 20, 2011

Trio moves on in CCS playoffs

Paly, Menlo and SHP advance to quarterfinals after opening-round wins

by Keith Peters

The pop quizzes are over for the Menlo School, Palo Alto and Sacred Heart Prep baseball teams. Now the real tests begin, even though Paly coach Erick Raich may feel he's been given a few answers already heading into the Central Coast Section quarterfinals.

While Menlo was geting a 17-strikeout performance from junior Freddy Avis in an 8-0 win over Scotts Valley and Sacred Heart Prep was getting a complete-game win from junior Jack Larson in a 4-2 triumph over Harbor, Palo Alto was getting some good news.

While the No. 3-seeded Vikings (25-9) were on their way to a 10-2 victory over No. 14 Monta Vista (15-12) to open the Division I playoffs on Wednesday, the Vikings' path to a possible section title got a little easier.

Top-seeded St. Francis was shocked by No. 16 Carlmont, 4-3, in the upset of the playoffs. That leaves No. 4 Wilcox (26-7), a 10-0 winner over Leland, as the highest-seeded team left in the lower bracket.

Palo Alto beat the Chargers twice last week to win the SCVAL De Anza Division playoff title.

In another surprise, perennial power Serra was eliminated from the first round for only the second time in 14 years as No. 6 Homestead (18-13-1) handed the No. 11 Padres (17-12) a 7-2 loss.

"Well, it was surprising to see St. Francis get knocked off," Raich said. "However, that's why CCS is always tough because it's single elimination and Carlmont, I heard, has a good LHP (left-handed pitcher).

"Homestead beating Serra doesn't surprise me because Homestead is a very good team and they were the higher seeded of the two teams. I think the road is still very tough for us and every team left in the tournament is a quality team. Hopefully, we play good baseball and can make it happen, but single elimination is always tough."

The Mustangs' victory means Palo Alto will face a common opponent in Saturday's quarterfinals. Paly defeated Homestead twice during the De Anza Division regular season by a combined score of 12-0.

Should the Vikings beat the Mustangs once again, they likely will face No. 2 Mitty in next Wednesday's semifinals at San Jose Municipal Stadium. The Monarchs (25-5-1) advanced with an 8-1 win over No. 15 Milpitas.

With St. Francis gone, so too is the prospect of Palo Alto having to beat both Mitty and the Lancers to claim its first-ever CCS baseball title.

The Vikings advanced past the first round as expected as junior Austin Braff tripled and drove in three runs and junior Justin Grey added a two-run homer to make a winner out of senior Graham Marchant, who was efficient over his four-plus innings on the mound.

Junior B.J. Boyd added a double and scored three times while senior Christoph Bono had two hits and two RBI. John Dickerson also had two hits for the Vikings, who now have won 14 of their past 16 games.

In Atherton, host Menlo School (23-5) kept its hopes alive for a second straight CCS Division III title with its solid opening win over No. 14 Scotts Valley (13-14) in a rematch of the 2004 CCS title game won by Menlo.

With Avis producing a dominant effort on the mound, senior Robert Wickers provided much of the offense with three hits and three RBI. The Knights banged out 12 hits, with Dylan Mayer and Tim Benton adding two each.

Menlo will face No. 6 Sacred Heart Cathedral (18-11) in Saturday's quarterfinals.

Also in Atherton, senior Tomas O'Donnell blasted a two-run homer in the third inning and finished with three RBI to pace host Sacred Heart Prep to its opening win.

The Gators next will face No. 2 Carmel (25-3) in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Padres advanced with a 9-0 win over No. 15 Capuchino.

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