Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - May 3, 2013

Pitching gems set up baseball showdown in the WBAL

by Keith Peters

Sacred Heart Prep head coach Gregg Franceschi and his counterpart at Menlo School, Craig Schoof, both were recipients of some pitching gems this week. Now, they need them again.

The Gators will host the Knights on Friday at 4 p.m., with first place in the West Bay Athletic League on the line.

Should Sacred Heart Prep (7-0, 16-8) beat Menlo for the first time at home under Franceschi, the Gators will hold a two-game lead with two to play — thus clinching no worse than a tie for the title and, with it, an automatic berth into the Central Coast Section playoffs.

Should Menlo (6-1, 16-7) win, the Knights will pull into a tie for first place and set the stage for a co-championship.

No matter what happens, both teams appear headed to the CCS Division III playoffs once again. Victories on Wednesday went a long way in making that possible.

Sacred Heart Prep sophomore Will Johnston made his first career pitching win a memorable one by tossing a five-inning no-hitter to beat host Crystal Springs, 10-0.

Johnston needed only five innings as the game was called due to the 10-run mercy rule. SHP tallied three runs in the bottom of the fifth, the final run coming on a bases-loaded walk to Brad Gritsch. He finished with three RBI while Hank Robson and Mike Covell added two each. Johnston struck out seven and walked just one.

Menlo School's Jack Redman, meanwhile, tossed a two-hitter to pace the Knights to a 4-0 victory over visiting King's Academy. Jared Lucian had a two-run double in the fourth to give Redman a 3-0 lead, more than enough to secure the victory. Graham Stratford contributed an RBI single.

Earlier in the week, Palo Alto and Gunn both took a step toward being eliminated in the SCVAL De Anza Division playoffs as each lost their respective opener on Tuesday.

The host and top-seeded Vikings (16-12) dropped a 4-3 decision to No. 4 Saratoga while the Titans (6-19) fell to Los Altos, 9-5.

Palo Alto got a triple from Austin Poore and doubles from Isaac Feldstein and Austin Kron among its eight hits, but had to battle from behind after giving up two runs in the top of the first. Three errors help lead to the Vikings' downfall.

The shaky defense ruined an otherwise solid pitching effort by Rohit Ramkumar, who tossed an eight-hitter with no walks.

Game 2 in the best-of-three series was at Saratoga on Thursday. Paly needed to win that to host a winner-take-all game Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Gunn, meanwhile, is battling not to be sent down to the El Camino Division. The Titans, however, committed four errors and gave up seven runs over the third and fourth innings —all of which were unearned.

Chris Rea had three of Gunn's six hits. He also scored twice. Gunn will visit Los Altos on Thursday and needs to win in order to force a third game Friday at Gunn.

In other series openers, Wilcox routed Homestead, 18-1, and Santa Clara edged Mountain View, 9-8.

In San Mateo, Hillsdale hit two solo seventh-inning home runs — the second a two-out, walk-off blast — to defeat Menlo-Atherton, 7-6, on Wednesday. The loss dropped M-A to 15-9 overall and 5-6 in PAL Bay Division play, while Hillsdale improved to 13-11 and 5-6.

M-A had taken a one-run lead in the top of the seventh on Charlie Cain's RBI double and Charles Grose's RBI sacrifice fly. Hillsdale tied the game on Armando Fajardo's long leadoff homer in the bottom of the inning, then celebrated when clean-up hitter Conner Wallace launched his game-winning, two-out homer over the right-field fence M-A senior Alex Aguiar (1-3) suffered the defeat, pitching in relief of starter Erik Amundson.

Coaching

Menlo School has hired Steven Cavella as its new girls' volleyball head coach and Matt Jones will lead girls' water polo, as well as boys' and girls' swimming for the 2013-14 school year.

Cavella takes over the volleyball program after serving as head coach at Crystal Springs for seven seasons. In 2012, he led the Gryphons to a 10-2 record and a share of the West Bay Athletic League (Skyline Division) championship.

During his tenure, Crystal Springs advanced to the CIF NorCal semifinals three times and his girls' teams took home three section championships.

Jones is the Age-Group and Developmental Coach for Stanford Water Polo Club and head coach of age-group teams at national club tournaments. He comes to Menlo after serving as assistant girls' water polo, varsity swimming and aquatics coordinator at Sacred Heart Schools.

Golf

After finishing second during the regular season, the Sacred Heart Prep boys' golf team got to enjoy first place after winning the West Bay Athletic League Tournament on Tuesday at Half Moon Bay's Old Course.

The Gators, as expected, earned the league's second automatic berth into next week's Central Coast Section regional after Menlo School had earned the first berth by winning the regular-season round-robin title.

The Gator had a team score of 391 on the par-72 layout with Menlo second (406) followed by Harker (417) and Pinewood (419).

Harker senior Maverick McNealy, a Portola Valley resident who is headed to Stanford in the fall, won medalist honors with a 1-under 71. Pinewood junior Trevor Hernstadt shot 74 for third place and will join McNealy in CCS individual competition.

Two CCS regionals will be held next week at Rancho Canada (West Course) in Carmel Valley. Sacred Heart Prep will play on Tuesday and Menlo on Wednesday.

SHP was led by Derek Ackerman's 73, which earned him second place. Bradley Knox tied for fourth at 76, Willy Lamb shot 79 to tie for seventh, Ryan Galvin finished in 11th with an 81 and Taylor Oliver wrapped up the scoring with an 82, tying him for 12th.

Defending CCS individual champion Andrew Buchanan of Menlo shot a 3-under on the front nine, but withdrew after feeling some back pain with four holes to play.

Menlo sophomore Ethan Wong shot 79 to lead the Knights and tie for seventh on the windy day.

"I definitely left some strokes out there today, but it was a good round to finish under 80 on a tough course on a tough day," said Wong.

Menlo junior Riley Burgess and freshman Jeff Herr both shot 80 and tied for ninth.

"On some holes," said Burgess, "the approach shots just flew the green as the balky wind conditions created havoc with yardages."

Menlo freshman William Hsieh shot 82 and tied for 12th while captain Max Garnick finished with an 85 after carding a 38 on the back nine.

In San Jose, SCVAL De Anza Division regular-season champ Palo Alto (12-0) remained the best squad in the league following the opening day of the SCVAL Tournament at Coyote Creek Golf Course. The Vikings shot 385 to grab a 15-stroke lead over Saratoga (400) while regular-season runner-up Gunn was in third at 408. Paly and Saratoga earned automatic CCS berths with their efforts Monday.

Grant Raffel led Paly with a 1-under 71 to trail only Saratoga's Robbie Parden (70) heading into Wednesday's final round, results of which were not reported.

Boys' lacrosse

Menlo School closed out its regular season in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League with a 9-4 win over host Burlingame. The Knights (5-7, 7-10) were led by Wiley Osborne and Matt Bradley, each of whom tallied three goals.

The Knights also got a strong defensive effort from long-sticks Parker Schultz, Matt Linton, and Charlie Roth.

Menlo jumped out to a 4-2 lead after the first period and extended the lead to 7-3 at halftime. The Knights also received goals from Colin Johnson, Mason Brady and Jack Marren. Goalie Luc McNally had seven saves.

Menlo now must wait for Mountain View (4-6) to play two games this week against Los Gatos (0-10) and Menlo-Atherton (10-0) to see if the Knights will qualify for postseason play next week.

Girls' lacrosse

Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep set the stage for their second showdown of the season with easy victories in WBAL Foothill Division action Tuesday.

The first-place Knights improved to 9-0 in league (11-6 overall) with a 16-1 romp over visiting Sacred Heart Cathedral. Menlo started all 11 seniors in its final regular-season home match and grabbed a 10-0 halftime lead. Senior Ali Kim led the way with three goals while senior goalies Hannah Rubin and Kaelen Dunn also scored during their time as field players.

Menlo has gone 59-0 in league matches since last losing to Menlo-Atherton during the 2007 season.

Just a short distance away, second-place Sacred Heart Prep (8-1, 16-1) rolled to a 13-3 victory over Burlingame as freshman Ally Mayle scored four goals with Caroline Cummings and Brigid White adding three each.

Sacred Heart Prep hosted Menlo on Thursday with first place on the line. The WBAL playoffs begin next week.

In other WBAL action, Castilleja (5-4, 7-5) got six goals from Katherine Hobbs in a 17-6 win over host Menlo-Atherton (2-7, 4-12-1). Lou Biffar added three goals for the Gators while Emily Carlson and Meredith Geaghan-Breiner each scored twice for the Bears.

In Los Gatos, Palo Alto wrapped up the SCVAL title with one match remaining with a 17-3 victory over the host Wildcats. The Vikings improved to 13-0 in league (16-2 overall) as seniors Nina Kelty and Charlotte Biffar each scored three goals.

Gigi Lucas-Conwell, Simone Buteau and and Allie Peery all scored twice for Paly, which closed the SCVAL regular season Thursday night.

Boys' volleyball

Sacred Heart Prep continued its late-season surge with a 25-11, 25-23, 25-18 victory over host James Lick on Wednesday. Matt Hao led the way with 24 assists with Ian Bennett producing 15 kills for the Gators (5-6, 9-11). Grant Chou added 16 digs with Lukas Hruska contributing six kills and four blocks.

On Tuesday, Bennett finished with 37 kills while Hao added 45 assists and 21 digs to pace Sacred Heart Prep to a 25-21, 25-27, 16-25, 25-22, 15-13 victory over host Cupertino. Chou added 26 digs and Hruska contributed nine kills and nine blocks for SHP.

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