An unforgettable season ended for Menlo-Atherton Saturday morning with a 10-2 defeat to sixth-seeded Bellarmine College Prep in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs at St. Francis High School. The loss came less than three days after the biggest win in the history of M-A's baseball programWednesday's stunning 9-5 victory over third-seeded St. Francis, the nation's 58th-ranked team.
The 14-seeded Bears' hopes of reaching the CCS semifinals dimmed when Bellarmine scored three runs in the first inning off M-A starting pitcher Patrick Moriarty. The key blows were a two-run homer to center by Kyle DeMerritt and a run-scoring double by Cody Wong. After surrendering a leadoff single in the second, Moriarty left the game with elbow soreness.
Bellarmine scored four more runs in the second, and three in the third, to take a commanding 10-0 lead. DeMerritt continued to haunt M-A with another two-run homer and a run-scoring fielder's choice, giving him 5 RBI for the day.
Menlo-Atherton's offense emerged in the fourth inning as the Bears scored two runs off Bellarmine starting pitcher Zack Malik. Junior second baseman Kyle Zirbes singled with one out (one of his three hits in the game), advanced to second on wild pitch, and scored on Jeff Keller's ringing double to left. Keller moved to third on Nils Gilbertson's sharp single to right, and scored on Chace Warren's RBI sacrifice fly to left.
The Bears continued to battle, collecting five more hits, but were unable to dent the scoreboard again against the offerings of four different Bellarmine pitchers.
In addition to Zirbes' three hits, Keller, Gilbertson, Cam Winn, Ryan Chilcoat, Chris Gow, and Andy Brodbeck contributed to M-A's nine-hit attack.
While the contest signaled the end of the seniors' M-A baseball careers, it also provided a preview of three sophomore pitchers who should play prominent roles on next season's varsity squad. Nick Lange (one inning), Dylan Cook (one inning), and Ryan Cortez (two innings) all saw action in the game, with Cortez blanking the Bells on one hit in the two frames he pitched.
Menlo-Atherton finished the season with a 16-12 overall record, while making history as the first M-A team to defeat a West Catholic Athletic League opponent in CCS action.