The Palo Alto High School baseball team (0-1) knew going into the game, yesterday in Paly’s season opener, how talented the reigning Central Coast Section Division II champion St. Ignatius Wildcats (1-0) were going to be.
“[St. Ignatius has] They got game,” junior pitcher Chris Smith said. “They are probably the best team we’re gonna play all year, with some very good hitters and a fast-throwing pitcher.”
A rout by the Wildcats only solidified the Vikings’ thoughts.
In Paly’s home fans’ first glimpse of the 2013 Viking team, the Vikings fell to the St. Ignatius Wildcats, 9-3.
The Wildcats dominated on both sides of the game: on defense, the Wildcats’ pitching held the Vikings to only eight hits while recording nine strikeouts, and on offense, St. Ignatius used an explosive five-run sixth inning to secure its first victory on the season.
The game was a much needed reminder of how hard Paly will have to work to repeat last year’s successful season. The 2012 Vikings finished with a 27-7 record and fell to the Valley Christian Warriors in the CCS Division I semifinals.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Smith said. “In order to be successful, we have to play as a team.”
The Vikings, with Smith on the mound, allowed two quick runs in the top of the first inning and were never able to get back into the game.
Junior catcher Austin Kron and junior pitcher Danny Erlich chipped in a run apiece in the fourth inning that brought the score to within two runs at 4-2, but the rally fell short, and the Wildcats pulled away in the sixth inning.
Smith, who started the game for the Vikings, pitched four and two-thirds innings and was relieved by senior pitcher Rohit Ramkumar. Smith, Ramkumar and Erlich each notched two strikeouts to lead the Vikings on defense.
Paly will face yet another formidable challenge as it hosts last season’s West Catholic Athletic League champion, the St. Francis Lancers (1-0), noon Saturday.