Uploaded: Tuesday, July 24, 2012, 10:59 AM
A successful tuneup for the regional playoffs
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|The Palo Alto Oaks tuned up for this weekend's AABC Western Baseball Association Stan Musial Division regional playoffs by winning two of three games this past weekend at Baylands Athletic Center.
Palo Alto (15-3) topped Bercovich Gold, 7-1, in a nonleague game Saturday before splitting a nonleague doubleheader with the visiting Fontanetti's Collegiate on Sunday, losing the opener (3-2) before winning the nightcap, 2-0.
Palo Alto will be the host for the four-team regional playoffs, which will send the winner to the Stan Musial World Series, Aug. 7-12 in Port Lucie, Fla.
The Oaks have won this tournament the past two years and hope to make it three in a row. Games begin Friday at 1 p.m., with the Oaks scheduled to play their first game against Banditos Baseball, the No. 1 SoCal seed, at 5 p.m. All games will be played at Sarge Casey Field at Baylands Athletic Center.
In addition to the Oaks and Bandidos Baseball, other teams in the field include the Solano Mudcats and Sacramento Legends. A fifth team, from Southern California, decided to pull out at the last moment, thus changing the schedule of the double-elimination event.
The championship game is tentatively set for Sunday at 11 a.m., with a challenge game (if necessary) to follow at 3 p.m.
On Saturday, the Oaks cruised past Bercovich Gold of Oakland behind the powerful left-handed tandem of A.J. Gallardo and Matt Campbell.
Gallardo, a first-year Oak coming off a fine senior season at Cal State East Bay, dominated the Gold by allowing no runs and only one hit over the first five frames. Campbell, serving in rare relief duty, allowed one run on one hit in the sixth before shutting down the Gold in order for the remainder of the game.
Leadoff hitter Evan Warner from Palo Alto High hit the ball well, reaching base in four of five chances. Cleanup hitter Bryan Beres had two doubles, driving in two, while Danny Ordonez added three hits of his own, driving in one and scoring twice. The Oaks had 13 hits in all.
On Sunday, the Oaks' Dominic Hernandez started the first game and allowed Fontanetti's three runs and five hits through the first six innings. Fontanetti's used four pitchers who combined to allow only two runs on five Palo Alto hits.
Oaks' reliever Ricky Navarro from Gunn High held Fonatanetti's scoreless for the remainder of the game, but three runs proved to be enough for the visitors from San Jose. The Oaks rallied in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with no outs but failed to score.
In Game 2, the Oaks scored all the runs they needed in the first inning. Warner led off the game by reaching first on a fielding error and then stole second. He advanced to third on a single by Allen Stiles, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Beres.
Stiles advanced to second on Beres' sacrifice, moved to third on a groundout and then scored on a single by designated hitter Anthony Bona. Jeff Ramirez had three hits in three at bats combined with two stolen bases in the game.
First-year Oak, C.J.Hillyer got the win by pitching a shutout for the first four innings of the seven-inning contest. Brant Norlander pitched two more scoreless innings before turning the ball over to closer and team manager Greg Matson, who earned the save with a scoreless final inning.
Menlo Park Legends
A pinch-hit walk-off single by Andrew Castaņeda gave the Menlo Park Legends a 3-2 victory over the visiting Southern Oregon Riverdawgs in the teams' rubber match Sunday at Caņada College in Redwood City.
With a 2-2 ball game, the bases loaded and slugger CJ Jacobe at the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning, Legends' manager David Klein decided to pinch-hit Castaņeda, who hadn't taken an at-bat in two weeks.
"Andrew is a contact hitter who doesn't strike out a lot," Klein said. "My gut feeling was to put him in there. I knew he'd give us a competitive at-bat, and he did."
Castaņeda walked up to the plate with the same approach as he always takes -- see the ball, hit the ball -- and delivered on the second pitch.
"I went up there and thought see ball, hit ball," Castaņeda said. "I mean, to me, it's not about thinking about the moment -- it's the same, regular at-bat. But oh man it felt good."
Legends' starting pitcher Alon Leichman threw seven solid innings, fanning five Riverdawgs and allowing a single run off of four hits. The Riverdawgs were able to attack Legends' reliever Ryan Reese in the eighth inning and add another run. Ricky Guerrero then came in and struck out a batter and with men in scoring position and a tie game in the top of the ninth, Joe Goldenberg struck out the one batter he faced.
Pete Woodall and Tyger Pederson each had two hits apiece, but other than for them and Castaņeda, the Legends' bats were fairly quiet.
Menlo Park saw its nine-game win streak end on Saturday in a 9-6 loss in the first game of a doubleheader against the visiting Southern Oregon Riverdawgs.
Looking down the road, the Legends have a tough stretch of games prior to the Far West League Playoffs. The team has a two-game series versus the league rival NorCal Longhorns and then takes on the Neptune Beach Pearl, one of the top teams in the Far West League.
"The competition from here on out is only going to get better and stronger, and we just need to keep on coming out and giving our best effort," Klein said. "We're winning lots of games -- we're winning tight games, and all the guys are playing well together. As long as we keep winning we will be locked in the playoffs."
The Legends (27-12) host the NorCal Longhorns on Tuesday and Wednesday at Caņada College at 5 p.m.
— Palo Alto Online Sports/Max Darrow on Menlo Park Legends
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