Jeff Keller crushed a tie-breaking two-run homer to left-center in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Nils Gilbertson pitched a four-hit complete game, as host Menlo-Atherton defeated Half Moon Bay 4-2 on Friday afternoon in the teams’ regular season finale. The victory improved the Bears’ league record to 9-5 and overall mark to 15-11, assuring M-A of a berth in the CCS playoffs. CCS seeding and matchups will be announced on Saturday, May 15.
It was Senior Day at M-A, and the seniors rose to the challenge in their last home game at Bettencourt Field.
After allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and an error in the first, senior Gilbertson shut out the Cougars on just one hit (a third-inning double) the rest of the way, retiring the last 13 hitters he faced. Gilbertson struck out two, walked none, and threw just 81 pitches in improving his season record to 7-2.
Senior catcher Keller, who entered the game with a league-leading .526 batting average, enhanced his numbers with a 3-for-4 performance and 2 RBI (including his game-winning homer), while senior first baseman Patrick Moriarty went 2-for-3 and drove in the Bears’ first run.
Seniors Cam Rowland and Chris Gow also played key roles in the victory. Rowland was hit by a 1-2 pitch in the fourth inning, and scored the game-tying run on Gow’s ground ball that was mishandled by Half Moon Bay’s third baseman, one of four Cougar miscues.
M-A benefited from three outstanding defensive plays: a diving catch by senior center fielder Wally Hansen on a sinking line drive to center in the second; a lunging grab of a foul pop-up by Keller in the third; and junior shortstop Casey Eason’s backhand stab of a vicious ground ball in the hole, followed by a perfect throw to first, also in the third inning.
M-A now awaits word about its first-round opponent in the CCS playoffs.