PALO ALTO – A youth team must have been nervous on Saturday. A young team would have seen the scoreboard changed dramatically and worked their way up to defeat at the end of the season.
Palo Alto is not a youth team.
The Vikings took a seven-run lead in the sixth inning of their Central Coast Section Division I baseball quarterfinals. Carlemont scored eight runs in the visitors half of the sixth and retired to Palo Alto down the order in the home half of the frame.
By their final three outs, third seed Palo Alto set the stage for Charlie Bates, and the kid already committed to the university across the road – Stanford – took a one-off single from the middle to drive into the tie. Hit and winning run.
Palo Alto celebrated an 11–10 victory over a team that deserved much praise as a team playing in the semi-finals the following week.
“Sometimes an eight-run knock like this can kill you, take away your energy,” said Palo Alto star Henry Bolte. “When we’re back on offense we’re back at work. We do our best under this kind of pressure. Everyone comes.”
On a hot day, sixth seed Carlmont trailed 9-2 at the start of the sixth inning. The Scots (20-7-1) scored one run off Aidan Kurt’s single and four more off Carson Vance’s Grand Slam.
Carlemont did not stop.
The next two batsmen scored singles and the ninth hitter in the order – Tyler Pechetti – scored two runs and scored a hit to centre. A Tanner van Why single gave the Scots a 10-9 lead.
“It’s a special group,” said Carlmont coach Ryan Hamilton. “We’re one of the few public schools where we’ve been in that lift all season. We’re doing a lot more work than we’ve done in the past. It was our belief that no matter what happens, we’re that team. who works harder than everyone else and we’re just going to bat and we’re going to find a way to win at the end of the day.
“That was our belief in the first innings. And in the sixth inning, it didn’t matter who we were down. We believed we would win.”
Inside the Palo Alto dugout, coach Pete Fukuhara said nothing when the Carlmont rally finally came to an end.
“We have some big guys, a lot of seniors, and I trust them,” Fukuhara said. “Our leadership on this team is incredible. They find a way to rise to the occasion.
“Today was a game of speed. We had a quick pace. They caught it late, and then we took it back in the seventh. It’s a good ball club over there. One to nine, those guys swing the bat.”
Completing a surprise comeback, Carlemont faced Palo Alto’s No. 9, 1 and 2 batsmen to start in seventh place.
Number 9 Zach Hayward opened the innings with a single from the left. Speak ahead. All Texas committed Saturday did the theft of double, homer, single, and two bases.
He took a walk.
Hayward and Bolte moved up to second and third on a wild pitch. With an out, Bates stepped into the box and saw a steady dose of off-speed pitches.
When the fastball arrived, he knocked it off the middle for the winner.
Charlie Bates’ two-run single sent Palo Alto to the CCS D1 semi-finals in an 11-10 win over Carlmont. @ leftwich @Henrybolt 2 @danny_peters10 @PalyAthletics @VytasMazeika @jensenfil pic.twitter.com/dlHIBw0Uxo
— Darren Sabedra (@DarrenSabedra) 21 May 2022
“Going into that innings, we all knew we were going to win the game,” Bates said. “I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could do it for us. I think if you put any of our boys in there they would do the same thing.”
Bates, clearly intelligent by his years, knew what to look for after delving deep into the count.
“My approach is to just fight that off-speed and wait for that fastball, which I eventually got,” he said. “They pitched me first with that outside slider, and they were going to try and go over and over. I just hit the ball.”
And when he did, Palo Alto (25-5) had earned a date with old Nemesis Valley Christian in the semifinals Wednesday at San Jose’s Excite Ballpark.
Wally has eliminated Palo Alto from each of the last two CCS playoffs – the semifinals last year, the first round in 2019.
There will be no elimination this time.
In the CCS, Division I semifinalists qualify for the inaugural California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Regional which begins May 31.
Not that Palo Alto will take the semi-finals lightly.
“That’s what we want,” Bolte said of four-time champion Wally. “This team is hungry for that game.”
The teams scored four home runs, two each. Bolte and Danny Peters clear the fence for Palo Alto, Vance and Tripp Garish go deep for Carlmont. … before reaching the CCS semi-finals last season, Palo Alto had lost six consecutive first-round games, including one to Carlmont in 2015.