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The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Boys’ baseball guarantees playoffs with shutout win over Los Gatos


The Palo Alto High School varsity boys’ baseball team (7-6) are guaranteed a playoff berth after defeating the Los Gatos Wildcats (12-1) in a 4-0 shutout win for the Wildcats’ first loss of the season.

The Vikings were 6-6 going into the game, ranked third in the De Anza league where the top four teams qualify to the Central Coast Section playoffs. This win means a guaranteed spot in the postseason, as the team has put itself two games ahead of the non-playoff league teams with only one game left in the season. Because there were no league playoffs this year, the stakes of the CCS postseason are higher than ever.

Coming into the game, Viking infielder Zachary Thom said one of the team’s main goals was to have a strong start.

“It’s always been a big rivalry [with Los Gatos], ” Thom said. “We knew we needed to come out with energy.”

The game was defined early on by strong defensive play from both sides, with neither side scoring a single run up to the Wildcats’ third time at bat. Sophomores Kanghee Cho and Coco Vonderhaar were able to get their team a run each, ending the Vikings’ scoreless start.

The score remained 2-0 until the bottom of the fifth, when Thom immediately hit an out-of-the-park home run to deep left field. The Vikings would go on to score once more in the sixth inning, and the game ended without a single Wildcat making it to the home plate.

According to Viking head coach Pete Fukuhara, the biggest key to the win was the team’s defensive play, holding the No. 1 team in the league scoreless the entire game. Fukuhara said Viking junior pitcher Nate Donaker’s performance was especially crucial to getting the shutout.

“Any time you throw a shutout, that’s a great defensive performance,” Fukuhara said. “He [Donaker] only gave up three hits to the number one team.”

Donaker’s play proved pivotal in its consistency, as he pitched seven straight innings while striking out 10 batters over the course of the game. Donaker said his play was a result of the stakes of the game instead of making special adjustments to prepare.

“It was a big game, so I was pretty excited for it,” Donaker said. “This game was huge for us because they’re our rivals and also one of the best teams in CCS.”

The Vikings play the Wildcats again today at Los Gatos High School. According to Wildcat head coach Mike Minkel, the Wildcats will be looking to focus and change the game plan for today’s game.

“We don’t care who they played, what’s going on, we always expect a tough battle when we come up here to Palo Alto,” Minkel said. “You always go back to the drawing board when things don’t work out.”

As the Vikings go into the final game of the season, Fukuhara is looking to close out the season strong. He said he has faith in how far the team has come, and that they can make a playoff run, despite the challenges they’d faced early in the season.

“We stay positive even when we had a little adversity,” Fukuhara said. “These guys, even though they’re really young, are playing mature baseball.

The Vikings will take on the Los Gatos Wildcats 4 p.m. today at Los Gatos High School.

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About the Contributors
Christopher Choi
Christopher Choi, Reporter
Nathan Jiang
Nathan Jiang, Editor-in-Chief, Webmaster
Nathan Jiang (Class of 2025) joined The Voice in his sophomore year and enjoys playing tennis, learning and loves meeting new people!

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