Baseball: Vikings ousts Bellarmine, advances to CCS semifinals

Edward Mei, Author

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Senior pitcher Ben Sneider throws a pitch in Saturday’s game against the Bellarmine Bells. The Vikings would go on to defeat the Bells 3-2. Photo by Edward Mei

The chipped, sea green paint that covers the stadium; the beams of wood, aged to perfection, that support the grandstand structure; the buzzing and chirping that erupts after every pitch – these are the sights and sounds of the Washington Park in Santa Clara, Calif. Built in 1935, this ballpark houses over 75 years of baseball history and memories. Today, another moment was born.

The Palo Alto High School baseball team (27-6) pulled out a 3-2 thriller over the Bellarmine College Prepatory Bells (15-15) today at the Washington Ballpark, in the second round the Central Coast Section Division I Playoffs.

The Vikings looked flustered early on – the Bells scored on the second pitch of the game with a home run that sailed deep into left field. Stifling defense by the Bells limited the Viking batters to quick outs in the first couple of innings.

It wasn’t until the bottom of the third inning that the Vikings seemed to have a little fight in them, when senior second baseman Jack Witte drove in senior outfielder B.J. Boyd with an RBI double to tie things up at one run apiece.

In the top of the fourth inning, the Bells had an opportunity to jump out to a big lead with one out and the bases loaded. The Bells were able to push the score up to 2-1 with an RBI single, but the Vikings were able to breathe a sigh of relief after quickly stopping the Bells’ charge with a double play to end the inning.

From there, the two teams tugged back and forth at the lead with both teams poised and within striking distance, but neither able to pull away from the other due to missed opportunities at the plate.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, with the Vikings still down 2-1, Paly stormed back to take a decisive 3-2 lead. Senior catcher Christian Lonsky came up big, delivering an RBI double and then scoring the go-ahead run off of an RBI walk to help complete the Viking comeback.

Senior pitcher Ben Sneider started the game for Paly, chalking in three strikeouts, while allowing two runs in four innings. Sophomore pitcher Danny Erlich finished the game out for the Vikings, including a clutch three-and-out in the top of the seventh inning to secure the win.

“Danny Erlich, I think he gets the nod today,” head coach Erick Raich said. “Against a team like that, in a pretty pressure game, it’s a heck of an effort – especially the way they were swinging the bat.”

The Vikings head to the semifinals of the CCS Playoffs at 7 p.m. this Wednesday at the San Jose Municipal Stadium. They will take on the fourth seeded Valley Christian Warriors (23-8), who defeated the twelfth seeded Milpitas Trojans (14-14), 4-1, in the game following the Vikings’. In the upper half of the bracket, the San Benito Haybalers (23-6) and the St. Francis Lancers (26-4) will match up in the other semifinal game, which will take place at 4 p.m. prior to when Paly will play on Wednesday.