Vikings defeat Cupertino, 8-7, in extra-inning thriller

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    Senior Justin Hull prepares to receive a pitch from Cupertino High School’s starting pitcher Ben Townsend. Hull lead the Viking’s offense with two extra-base hits and scored the winning run. Photo by Ethan Kao.

    The Palo Alto High School baseball team (6-1-1) defeated the Cupertino High School Pioneers (2-4) in a nine inning thriller, 8-7, on Tuesday.

    This was a continuation of last Friday’s game that was postponed due to poor weather.

    Junior Viking pitcher Ryan Chang was terrific as he delivered for five and two-thirds innings and recorded four strikeouts while only giving up two runs against a powerful Cupertino roster. Chang said his team had a solid outing but needs to work on closing out games.

    “We played great for most of the game but we have to finish better,” Chang said.

    During the first part of the game that had been discontinued a few days earlier, Chang struggled to retire the Cupertino hitters as he battled the wind and rain, giving up two runs in the first inning.

    After the Pioneers struck first in the beginning inning scoring two runs off of Chang, the Vikings rallied and scored five runs straight off of consecutive hits from junior Ben Cleasby, senior Owen Plambeck and senior Justin Hull.

    Under Tuesday’s sunny skies, Chang did not give up a run during his four innings on the mound.

    The opposing pitchers silenced the bats of both teams for the next three innings until Viking sophomore Max Jung-Goldberg smashed a single to right field scoring senior third baseman Riley Schoeben and giving the Vikings a commanding 6-2 lead.

    The Pioneers trailed the Vikings, 7-2, entering the seventh and final inning, but refused to stop fighting. An RBI triple by senior infielder Josh Longabaugh fueled a rally against Vikings pitcher Andrew Tam, who gave up five runs in the top of the seventh before being replaced by sophomore Niko Lillios.

    Lilliosi ended the Cupertino rally by forcing a pop-out to senior first baseman Alec Olmstead.

    The Vikings were unable to retake the lead in the bottom of the seventh, but held the Pioneers scoreless in extra innings. In the bottom of the ninth, a sacrifice bunt from junior shortstop Ethan Stern scored Hull from third, sending the team home with its second straight victory over Cupertino.

    Plambeck said the win is what counts, not matter how close the game was.

    “Obviously we cannot be upset with a win, but we are not happy with how we let them get back into the game in he bottom of the seventh after being up five runs,” Plambeck said. “But overall, a win is a win and a league win is especially important.”

    Schoeben said that the team delivered a good performance, but was lucky Cupertino wasn’t able to take away the victory.

    “We played solid and got a big enough lead to be able to put them away in seven innings but we let them back in it,” Schoeben said. “We have to learn from this and move on. Luckily we got out of there with the win.”

    Lillios was the winning pitcher for the Vikings and Hull carried the team with two RBIs and a couple extra base hits.

    The Vikings will face Wilcox High School at 4 p.m. today at home.

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