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Menlo-Atherton and Palo Alto National will battle on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. for the right to face defending champion Hillsborough in the consolation finals on Sunday of the District 52 Majors 11-12 All-Star Tournament at Palo Alto's Middlefield Ballpark.
Menlo-Atherton advanced with an 8-7 victory over Alpine-West Menlo on Friday before Palo Alto National remained alive with an 8-6 triumph over Foster City in eight innings. The M-A/Palo Alto National winner takes on Hillsborough on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. The winner of that game will play San Carlos American on Monday for the championship at 7 p.m.
A challenge game, if necessary, will be played Wednesday at 7 p.m., with the district champion advancing to the Section 3 Tournament in Danville.
Menlo-Atherton seemingly wrapped up its win early when it exploded for six runs in the first inning while sending 11 hitters to the plate. Bret Rodrigues slammed a three-run homer to make it 4-0 and winning pitcher Kailen Kershner scored on a wild pitch for a 5-0 lead. Moments later, after a pitching change by Alpine, JC Marco also scored on a wild pitch and it was 6-0.
Alpine got a run back in the top of the second when Connor Johnston slammed a solo homer with two outs.
Menlo-Atherton got that run back, and more, when Angelo Athens walked and Blake Henry singled in the bottom of the second. Both scored on groundouts by Rodrigues and Kershner. Rodrigues finished with four RBI.
Despite holding an 8-1 lead after two innings, Menlo-Atherton's advantage was not safe as Alpine chipped away.
In the top of the third, Alpine came back with three runs, but left the bases loaded. In the fifth, a determined Alpine closed the deficit to one, scoring three runs on two errors, a walk and a single by Alex Gallo.
In the sixth, Alpine had two on but couldn't get the final hit on M-A closer, Angelo Athens.
In the second game, Palo Alto's Alec Olmstead slammed a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to give his team an 8-6 lead. Teammate Ryan Chang had reached base on an error before the homer.
Palo Alto's ethan Stern hit a two-run homer in the top of the sixth for a 6-4 lead and PA National needed only three outs to wrap things up. Griffy Byer, however, gave up a two-run homer to James Halpin as Foster City tied the game.
Foster City had a chance to win in the seventh when Will Peterson singled to open the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on a passed ball. When a curveball got away from Palo Alto catcher Brian Tracy, Peterson took off for home in an attempt to score the winning run. The ball, however, remained close enough to the plate and Tracy was able to toss the ball to Byer, who tagged out Peterson.