By Rick Chandler
Palo Alto Online Sports
Well, if you're going to lose your first game in a double-elimination tournament, you might as well lose big. That way you get all your mistakes out of your system.
Menlo-Atherton's 11-12 year-old all-stars, off to one if its best starts ever in the District 52 Little League Tournament, hit a wall on Monday against defending champion Hillsborough. M-A gave up 11 runs in the first inning and wound up losing, 17-2, in a winners bracket semifinal at Ortega School in Pacifica.
As bad as that was, however, M-A lives to play again. It will take on either San Mateo National or Pacifica American on Wednesday in a losers-bracket game. M-A would have to win four straight games to take the title.
Hillsborough sent 13 men to the plate and had four extra-base hits in the first, but after that, things settled down somewhat. M-A scored twice in the bottom of the first, on Holden Kardos' two-run double.
M-A center fielder Mason Randall made one of the greatest catches in the tournament, snagging a drive that was headed for extra bases in the third. Arnot Lapras, Reid Fratt and Will Johnson had singles for M-A.
In the other winners' bracket game on Monday, Half Moon Bay beat San Mateo American, 10-6. Hillsborough meets Half Moon Bay on Thursday in the winners' bracket final.
Alpine-West Menlo meets San Carlos today at 5:30 in a losers' bracket game.
The Palo Alto National starting pitchers seem to have this pitch-'em-where-they-can't-hit-it and hit-the-pitch-so-hard-no-one-will-be-able-to-catch-it thing down pat.
For the second straight game, a Palo Alto starter pitched a shutout while on the mound and struck gold with a home run.
This time it was Justin Hill who supplied three scoreless innings and a three-run home run as Palo Alto National 10-11-year-olds beat Half Moon Bay, 13-2, in the loser's bracket of the District 52 10-11-year-old all-star tournament at Lakeshore Park in San Mateo on Monday.
Charlie Rascz also hit a 3-run home run as PA National looks to climb back into the championship bracket. If Palo Alto keeps hitting all these home runs, though, it could be costly. Each family was awarded the home run ball as a keepsake.
With four teams remaining, Palo Alto will look to continue its run through the loser's bracket with a game against either Hillsborough or Foster City on Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m., also at Lakeshore.
Hill was followed to the mound by Tommy Smale, Riley Schoeben and Ryan Chang for one inning each.