Menlo School claimed its fourth Central Coast Section baseball crown in school history with an 8-2 victory over Hillsdale in the Division III finale on Saturday at San Jose Municipal Stadium.
The No. 3-seeded Knights (25-6) finished the season winning their last 14 games. Of Menlo's six losses, five were by one run and the other in extra innings by two. Hillsdale, the No. 16 seed, finished 19-12.
Menlo was not to be denied on Saturday, despite giving up one run in the top of the first. The Knights batted back with senior catcher Jackson Badger having the big hit, a two-run double in the second that put the Knights ahead for good at 2-1.
After a great play by Stanford-bound senior Danny Diekroeger ended a bases-loaded threat in the top of the fourth, Menlo tallied five times to break the game open in the bottom half of the frame as Badger added another key hit and senior Matt Crowder executed a perfect hit-and-run single to ignite the rally.
Sophomore starter Freddy Avis gave Menlo 4 2/3 excellent innings while battling a cold and junior Jake Bruml came in with the bases loaded and one run in the fifth, but recorded a strikeout to end the inning. Bruml then slammed the door over the last two innings in earning his first save of the year to go along with the clutch victory in Wednesday's semifinal over Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Menlo's five seniors – Badger, Crowder, Diekroeger, Robbins and Dustin Williams -- leave the program with three straight seasons of more than 20 wins for the first time in school history; 50 wins over their junior and senior campaigns, and a CCS title – Menlo's first since 2004.
CCS Division III Championship
At San Jose Municipal Stadium
Hillsdale 100 010 0 -- 2 8 3
Menlo 020 501 x -- 8 12 0
Pagano, Hanson and Woodall; Avis, Bruml (5) and Badger. WP – Avis (8-3). LP – Pagnano.
2B – Barden 2 (H); Bruml, Mayer, Avis, Wickers, Badger (M). 2 hits – Cecil, Barden (H); Diekroeger, Bruml, Badger (M). 2 RBI – Mayer, Badger (M).
Records: Hillsdale finishes 19-12; Menlo finishes 25-6
-- Palo Alto Online Sports