Baseball steals SCVAL title with 7th inning rally

    Junior shortstop Ethan Stern looks to turn a double play during a regular season game against Los Gatos during a home league match. The Vikings defeated the Wildcats in the final game of a three-game series to secure the SCVAL title. Photo by Cooper Lou.

    Junior shortstop Ethan Stern looks to turn a double play during a regular season game against Los Gatos. The Vikings defeated the Wildcats in the final game of a three game series to secure the SCVAL title. Photo by Cooper Lou.


    The Palo Alto High School baseball team (23-5-1, 12-2) defeated the Los Gatos High School Wildcats (20-12, 13-1), 3-2, thanks to a three-run rally in the final inning of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship game on Friday at Los Gatos.

    Sophomore starting pitcher Jeremy Akioka held the Wildcats to just one run in five and one-third innings pitched, giving up his lone run in the third inning. Akioka said the team stayed strong despite trailing for most of the game.

    “Our team did a great job of battling from behind and getting the hits when it mattered,” Akioka said.

    Down 2-0, the Vikings were unable to score off Los Gatos’ starting ace until the seventh and final inning where they sparked a three run rally.

    This unlikely comeback started with a walk of senior Justin Hull, followed by a deep double off the right field wall by sophomore second baseman Max Jung-Goldberg. A pair of singles by seniors Alec Olmstead and Lawrence Han scored both Hull and Jung-Goldberg.

    The Vikings finally took the lead off of a beautiful bunt by junior pinch-hitter Michael Champagne, which scored Olmstead from third.

    Champagne said the Vikings defense, specifically their pitching, enabled the offense to make a comeback late in the game and hopes the team can carry its momentum into the Central Coast Section playoffs.

    “Our pitching helped keep us in the game and we finally came alive in the 7th and had a great rally to take the lead,” Champagne said. “Niko Lillios provided a clutch closing inning to seal the victory. If our team can bottle that intensity we hope to have a far run in CCS.”

    Sophomore relief pitcher Niko Lillios sealed the game by forcing two flyouts and a strikeout.

    The Vikings will move on to compete in the CCS playoffs in the coming weeks The game time, opponent, and location have not yet been decided.

    According to Akioka, the team looks to continue its hot streak into the next round.

    “We’re confident that we will be able to use our momentum to push far through CCS this year,” Akioka said.

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