Senior center fielder Wally Hansen executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt, scoring junior Chace Warren, as host Menlo-Atherton defeated Burlingame 8-7 in eight innings Friday afternoon. The victory earned M-A a split in its important PAL Bay Division series with Burlingame, improving the Bears’ league mark to 5-1 and overall record to 11-7. Burlingame fell to 12-5-1 overall and 2-3 in league play.
M-A players, coaches, and fans breathed a huge sigh of relief as the Bears survived after squandering leads of 6-0 and 7-2. Burlingame fought back with two unearned runs in the fifth and five more runs in the sixth inning on four hits (two doubles), three walks, and a couple of M-A errors.
After relieving Myles Brewer with two outs in the top of the sixth, Warren surrendered a two-run double to Burlingame’s Forrest Armanino, but then induced Saamy Phan to hit into an inning-ending groundout with the score tied 7-7. Warren pitched scoreless baseball from that point on to earn the victory, escaping the seventh inning on a double play, and shutting out Burlingame in the top of eighth despite hitting a batter.
Facing Burlingame closer Chris Blanton, Warren was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the eighth inning and advanced to second on Louis McCabe’s single. Warren and McCabe then advanced to second and third, respectively, on a passed ball. After Burlingame walked Patrick Moriarty intentionally to load the bases, Hansen laid down a perfect bunt to score Warren and place M-A in the thick of the PAL Bay Division title chase.
M-A took advantage of six Burlingame errors in the first three innings to take a 6-0 lead.
In the first, senior catcher Jeff Keller singled, stole second, advanced to third on an infield single by Kyle Zirbes, and scored on a double steal. Zirbes later scored when Burlingame misplayed Warren’s ground ball.
In the second inning, M-A tallied three more times on three Burlingame errors, three base hits (Hansen, Keller, and Zirbes), and Chris Gow’s steal of home. Another M-A run scored in the third when Warren reached on an error, stole second, advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt, and scored on a wild pitch.
Meanwhile, senior pitcher Nils Gilbertson was cruising, shutting out Burlingame over the first four innings on three hits. Overall, Gilbertson yielded six hits and five runs (just two earned) over 5 2/3 innings, before giving way to Brewer with two outs in the sixth.
Menlo-Atherton returns to action on Wednesday with a PAL Bay Division contest at Aragon.