Senior center fielder Wally Hansen scored on a wild pitch in the top of the eighth inning as visiting Menlo-Atherton defeated Terra Nova 9-8 to retain its hold on first place in the PAL Bay Division standings. The victory, M-A’s fourth straight and 12th in its last 15 games, improved the Bears’ league mark to 8-1 and overall record to 14-7. M-A now leads second-place Carlmont by two games in league play.
Menlo-Atherton led 8-1 after 4 ˝ innings, led saw Terra Nova score four runs in the fifth and three more in the bottom of the seventh inning to force extra innings.
After M-A escaped the bottom of the seventh with the score deadlocked 8-8, the Bears’ Andy Brodbeck led off the top of the eighth with a walk. Brodbeck was forced out at second on Wally Hansen’s sacrifice bunt attempt, but M-A then loaded the bases when Casey Eason was hit by a pitch and catcher Jeff Keller walked. With Kyle Zirbes at the plate, losing pitcher Nick Manessis unleashed a wild pitch that scored Hansen for a 9-8 M-A advantage.
Terra Nova made things interesting in the bottom of the eighth when Mikey Shores singled with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch by M-A pitcher Zirbes. Zirbes then earned the victory and a save by striking out leadoff hitter Jake Barradas and inducing Anthony Papaleo to fly out to left.
Menlo-Atherton generated seven hits, including two triples and three runs scored by Keller (1 RBI) and a two-run single by Louis McCabe. The Bears took advantage of Terra Nova’s pitching and defense in other ways as well, scoring once on a passed ball, twice on steals of home, and two other times (including the game winner) on wild pitches.
M-A starting pitcher Patrick Moriarty breezed through the first three innings, shutting out Terra Nova while facing just nine batters. Moriarty yielded one run in the fourth, escaping the inning on a 6-4-3 double play. In the fifth, two errors, a walk, and three hits allowed Terra Nova to score four times (three earned), but Moriarty shut off Terra Nova’s rally by throwing another double-play ball to end the inning.
Moriarty gave way to Zirbes in the sixth inning after walking Terra Nova’s leadoff hitter. Zirbes retired the next three hitters, helped by a spectacular diving catch by second baseman Chris Gow.
With M-A leading 8-5 in the seventh, Zirbes surrendered three runs on three hits, two walks, and two sacrifice fly balls, but made a great pitch to induce Rodolfo Locon to ground into an inning-ending force-out. Zirbes struck out two in the bottom of the eighth to earn the win, improving his season record to 2-1.
Menlo-Atherton returns to action on Friday afternoon when it hosts Terra Nova.