Baseball looks to come back in first SCVAL playoff series

    Tuesday marks the Palo Alto High School baseball team’s (21-6, 13-1) first game of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League playoffs against the Wilcox Chargers (15-13, 7-7). The Vikings fell short of a win in the 7th inning; ultimately losing 3-4 in the first matchup of the three-game series. With the De Anza League title under their belts and holding the first seed in the SCVAL playoffs, the Vikings are looking to win the league tournament, and begin the long road to the top of the Central Coast Section.

    Sloppy errors in the outfield and a late comeback ultimately led to the Vikings’ loss.

    “We need to minimize all our errors and pick up our energy for Thursday’s game,” senior left fielder Angus Stayte said.

    Stayte, who was a designated hitter for Tuesdays’s game, led the team offensively with two hits and one RBI.

    Junior pitcher Jake Varner throws a fastball against Los Altos. Varner pitched one inning for the Vikings’, relieving senior Aron Ecoff who maintained a 1.17 ERA over six innings. Photo: David Hickey.

    A clutch single from designated hitter Michael Champagne and single from junior second baseman Max Jung-Goldberg gave the Vikings one run in the 7th inning. With a runner on second and third, Paly grounded out in the last play of the game, not able to close the one-run gap.

    According to Jung-Goldberg, the team must not let up in the SCVAL tournament, as they are the projected first seed going into the CCS tournament.

    “Winning the outright league title is huge for our team especially since we have been co-champs for the past two years,” Jung-Goldberg said. “Going into league playoffs knowing that gives us a lot of confidence but we can’t step off the gas pedal.”

    According to Champagne, these league playoff games impact what seed the Vikings will take into the CCS tournament.

    “Today we just played down to their level,” said Champagne. “When we play our game and play at our level, we’re confident we can beat any team we play. We just need to have a hard practice tomorrow, and then come out Thursday with fire, ready to play.”

    Earlier in the season, the Vikings took two regular season wins against the Chargers, beating them 12-3 and 3-1.

    Last Friday, the Vikings took a 5-1 win against Los Altos High School (15-10-1, 6-8) for senior night and a hard fought non-league loss on Saturday to Saint Francis (17-8, 9-4). Paly is looking to keep its quality of play high, according to senior pitcher Ryan Chang.

    Paly’s success on senior night can be attributed to high quality performance on both sides of the ball, and its downfall on Saturday was due to a higher standard of play brought by Saint Francis.

    “We need to do the same thing we have been doing to prepare for CCS; play clean baseball and not do too much of anything,” Chang said. “We don’t play as well when we try and [to] do too much; we need to keep it simple in order to win games. We are excited to face really great teams in CCS, as our league was not as competitive as last year.”

    The Vikings will face Wilcox again at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Wilcox for the second match of the three-game series.

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