Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - August 2, 2013

Palo Alto Oaks miss out on perfection

Stanford grad Appel is sharp in his longest stint; another Palo Alto High grad makes impressive debut

The Palo Alto Oaks fell short of a pair of goals while wrapping up their baseball season at the AABC West Regional in Sacramento on Sunday.

The Oaks had hoped to win the three-day, five-team tournament and then boycott the upcoming World Series, in protest of high travel costs. Had they been able to accomplish that, the Oaks likely would have finished with their first undefeated season.

Palo Alto, however, fell in the championship game to Easton Elite of Los Angeles, 4-1, at Sacramento City College and finished the season with a very respectable 19-2 record — both losses coming this past weekend to Easton Elite. The Oaks had won this tourney the previous three seasons.

"I'm very proud of this team," said Oaks' general manager Steve Espinoza. "The youngsters picked up very fast on the way to learning how Oaks play baseball. All you have to do to be an Oak is play hard, never give up and win OR lose with class. That is the Oaks' way of playing baseball, has been for many, many years. It is what (former coach) Tony (Makjavich) taught me."

Palo Alto manager and Gunn High grad Greg Matson took the mound in the title game and pitched great. But, some breaks in the fourth inning for Easton Elite proved costly for the Oaks.

A bunt single, a walk, a dribbler, followed by a ball beat into the ground in front of home plate that bounced all the way over Julio Cortez's head at third base plated two runs. A single by Nathan Zavala plated the third run for the LA-based team.

Matson pitched the entire game in the heat and struck out seven.

LA starter Fidel Hernandez held the Oaks — they had some good opportunities in the first, third and fourth innings but could not get the big hit — until the sixth when Palo Alto scored its lone run.

After a Bryan Beres line out to left, Cortez walked. Cortez advanced to third when Danny Ordonez doubled down the first-base line. Guerra then hit a ball down the first-base line that produced a diving stop, but scored Cortez. The Oaks had opportunities in the seventh and eighth, but could not deliver.

Sheldon Daquioag had a great game behind the plate for the Oaks. Daquioag threw out two steal attempts at second, and picked off another runner at third.

To reach Sunday afternoon's finale, the Oaks had to beat the host Sacramento Legends in the morning and did just that, 6-4.

Gunn High grad Ricky Navarro pitched a complete-game gem to get the win. Navarro gave up only five hits and struck out eight.

The Oaks scored a one run in the third when Maxx Sheehan singled, stole second and, after a wild pitch, ended up on third. Barry Knappe knocked Sheehan in with a deep fly to right field.

In the fourth, the Legends committed two errors and, after walks to Travis Conroy and Sheehan, Daquioag singled sharply to plate both. Another run was scored on a fielders' choice by Knappe.

The Oaks scored another run in the fifth when Gilbert Guerra led off with a single and promptly stole second. He scored on an error. The Oaks' final run came in the sixth when Sheehan led off with a single, stole second and scored on Knappe's single.

On Saturday, Palo Alto dropped its first game of the tournament, 9-1, to Easton Elite before beating the same team later, 6-4.

Easton and the Oaks had to play twice, back to back, because of the AABC tournament rules regarding byes. The Oaks had a bye on Friday and neither the LA team nor Sacramento Legends had a bye. This meant (after Fontanetti's and Healdsburg were eliminated) a flip of a coin determined the Oaks' second game on Saturday. The Legends won the flip and received the bye. This meant Easton would get the automatic bye on Sunday.

Brandt Norlander pitched great in the second game on Saturday, striking out eight LA batters in his eight innings. Matson came on in the ninth and pick up the save.

The Oaks will now focus on the Tony Makjavich Memorial golf tournament, slated for September 28 at Shoreline Golf Links in Mountain View. Details can be found on the Oaks website at www.paoaks.com.

* * * *

Stanford grad Mark Appel threw 4 2/3 innings in the Quad River River Bandits' 4-3 victory over visiting Peoria Chiefs on Wednesday night in Davenport, Iowa.

Appel allowed a run on six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out three in his longest stint as a professional.

Appel has made a combined six starts for Single-A Tri-Valley and Quad Cities. He has 20 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. He has an ERA of 3.20 and is still looking for his first decision.

In related news, the Cincinnati Reds designated Stanford grad Greg Reynolds for assignment earlier this week. The Reds have 10 days to trade him, release him or send him outright to the minors.

Reynolds made his first start in the major leagues in over two years when he took the mound against the San Francisco Giants last week at AT&T Park.

Reynolds was the starting and winning pitcher for the International League all-stars two weeks ago in Reno.

* * * *

Palo Alto High grad Tyger Pederson got his minor league baseball career started over the weekend in a big way with the AZL Dodgers of the Rookie Arizona League.

Pederson, who was sidelined in late spring due to a lacerated spleen suffered on Senior Day at Pacific when he dived head first into first base and landed on the bag, got his first hit in his first at-bat on Saturday against the Brewers before going 2-for-3 with an RBI on Sunday against the Indians' squad. On Monday, Pederson had a 2-for-4 day. On Tuesday he was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

After his first four games, Pederson had seven hits in 12 at-bats with three runs scored and two RBI. He was hitting .583.

Pederson formerly played for the Menlo Park Legends and at University of the Pacific. He was picked in the 33rd round by the Dodgers in June's MLB Firs-Year Player Draft.

Coincidentally, Pederson's younger brother, Joc, another Paly grad who also is in the Dodgers' organization — with the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern League.

During the same four days, Joc produced four hits in 14 at-bats. For the season, he's hitting .285 with 99 hits, 43 RBI, 15 homers, 66 runs scored and 28 stolen bases.

The last time the Pederson brothers played together was Tyger's senior year at Paly in 2008, when Joc was a sophomore.

Speaking of Paly, former Vikings' standout B.J. Boyd had seven hits in 18 at-bats during his past five games for the Vermont Lake Monsters (Oakland A's affiliate) in the Class A Short Season New York-Penn League.

In 39 games, Boyd is batting .331 with 48 hits, 19 RBI, 24 runs scored and four homers.

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