If the Menlo School boys' tennis team goes on to win the Central Coast Section title this season, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise. The Knights have beaten the second-best team in the section twice now following a 4-3 nonleague triumph over host Saratoga on Thursday. The Knights improved to 20-0 and now await the CCS seeding meeting on Monday night when Menlo should receive the No. 1 seed.
Menlo won fairly quickly by sweeping the doubles while losing just nine total games. Andrew Carlisle and Justin Chan won 6-1, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles; Daniel Morkovine and Kyle Sum were victorious at No. 2, 6-3, 6-1; and Brian Peltz joined with Jonathan Katzman at No. 3 for a 6-1, 6-3 win. Saratoga then picked up a point, but Menlo freshman Andrew Ball produced a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Eric Gast at No. 4 singles to clinch the victory.
"The match went pretty fast," said Menlo coach Bill Shine. "We were up 3-0 and clinched at 4-1. I felt really good about it. I was really pleased with the doubles play and Andrew Ball played just great. He plays really well in big matches."
Somewhat surprisingly, Menlo lost the top three singles matches. Jamin Ball fell to highly regarded John Lamble at No. 1, 6-4, 7-5, which will set up a likely rematch in the CCS playoffs. Fellow senior Patrick Chase lost quickly at No. 2, 6-0, 6-1, and freshman Richard Pham dropped a 7-5, 6-4 decision at No. 3.
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 past 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 ½ 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 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 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.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Gunn held off host Lynbrook for a 3 -2 victory to remain in the playoff hunt. Senior Blake Johnson pitched a complete game, giving up six hits and striking out 6. Gunn had a tough time pushing runs across the plate as the Titans stranded 10 base runners.
Lynbrook scored the first run of the game in the third inning with a leadoff double and subsequent single. Gunn tied it in the fifth when Johnson singled and then came around to score on a double by Travis Bowers. Lynbrook took advantage of two Gunn errors to score a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Gunn took the lead for good in the sixth. Graham Fisher hit a bomb that would have cleared most fences, but had to settle for a triple -- since there are no fences at Lynbrook.
Fisher later scored on a fielder's choice and Gunn picked up another run after Jack Hannan singled and later scored on a balk. Bowers and Johnson both had three hits for the Titans and Fisher had a pair.
Menlo-Atherton celebrated its 'Senior Day' with a 118-46 dunking of visiting Westmoor to move closer to wrapping up the PAL Bay Division dual-meet championship on Thursday. Senior Scott Swartz made the most of his final home meet by winning the 200 IM (2:08.46) and taking the 100 back (57.73) in addition to swimming legs on two winning relay teams with fellow senior Eric Wright, who also won the 200 free (1:55.03). Junior Nick Henze was M-A's other double winner, taking the 100 breast and 100 fly in addition to swimming on two winning relays. The only other senior on the team is Jed Springer. The Bears improved to 6-0 with only one meet remaining, at Sequoia.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto got double wins from DJ Fotsch and Byron Sanborn and wrapped up its dual-meet season with a 123-62 victory over host Homestead on Thursday. Fotsch won the 200 free (1:54.39) and 100 fly (57.15) while Sanborn took the 200 IM (2:03.57) and 100 breast (1:04.80) for the Vikings (5-1) on the cool, windy day. Sanborn also swam legs on the winning 200 free (1:33.34) and 400 free (3:35.69) relays.
Also in the De Anza Division, host Gunn finished up its dual-meet season at 5-1 with a solid 95-85 victory over Saratoga on Thursday. Will Thorson won the 100 fly in 57.46 and Richard Yuan took the 100 breast in 1:03.44 with diver Miko Mallari also winning. The Titans won with their depth, piling up points with important seconds and thirds.
Gunn wrapped up the SCVAL De Anza Division dual-meet title with a 108-72 swamping of visiting Saratoga on Thursday. The Titans (6-0) won all three relays, went one-two in the 200 free (Casey and Alex Lincoln), got wins from sophomore Rachael Acker in the 50 free (24.45) and 100 fly (59.10) and a big sweep in the 100 free from seniors Teva Levens, Grace Hamilton and Alex Lincoln. Levens also won the 100 breast and swam on the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton celebrated its 'Senior Day' in an appropriate manner with members of its senior class combining for seven individual victories in a 129-32 dunking of visiting Westmoor in a dual meet on Thursday. Senior Vanessa Lane won the 200 free and 100 free, senior Becca Dorst took the 200 IM and 100 breast, senior Ryanne Haught captured the 100 fly and senior Sarah Winters won the 50 free and 500 free to help lead the way. Winters also swam on two winning relays as did fellow senior Sophia Hommes, Haught and Dorst while senior Heather Bogott swam on the first-place 400 free relay.
Elsewhere, Palo Alto wrapped up second place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 118-67 dunking of host Homestead on Thursday. Sophomore Jasmine Tosky clocked a season best of 2:04.66 to win the 200 IM and doubled back to take the 100 fly in 57.69. Junior Sarah Liang also doubled, winning the 200 free (1:59.56) and 100 breast (1:10.11).