What a difference two days can make.
After dominating Gunn on the road on Wednesday 6-1, the Palo Alto High School baseball team (10-4) struggled for the first five innings of a rematch on Friday at George Hurley field, but managed to pull out the 6-2 victory.
A sixth inning rally led Paly to a hard-fought victory over its crosstown rivals for the second time in three days.
Senior outfielder Austin Poore led off the inning with the Vikings down 2-1. Poore hit a drive to left field for his third hit of the day and cruised in to second base standing up.
Senior shortstop Michael Strong followed up with a bunt single. With Feldstein up, Strong got the signal to steal. A wild throw to the outfield allowed him to advance all the way to third while Poore strolled home for the tying run.
“Austin [Poore] had a huge double in the sixth,” Head Coach Erick Raich said. “For Michael Strong, we always said if you put a bunt in that kind of a position it’s a guarantee base hit. We knew they were going to walk Feldstein, and luckily they didn’t handle the ball and we came through with a run there.”
Feldstein walked, and junior third baseman Bowen Gerould came through with a sacrifice bunt, allowing Strong to score and the Vikings to take their first lead of the game, 3-2. Senior first baseman Rowan Thompson singled to load the bases.
Junior catcher Austin Kron came up with the bases loaded, and hit a deep fly ball to right field. It was caught at the fence, but all runners tagged up and Feldstein scored, making it 4-2 in favor of the Vikings.
A two-run single up the middle by senior outfielder James Foug capped off a huge Paly run and gave the Vikings a 6-2 lead going into the final inning.
Besides their late-game rally, the Vikings struggled on offense throughout the game.
With a strong first inning and some inconsistent pitching by Vikings’ junior pitcher Danny Erlich, the Titans stormed out to an early lead, and maintained their lead for much of the game.
However, Erlich’s pitching quickly improved, and he was able to shut Gunn out for the last 6 innings.
“A great pitcher can pitch well on a good day, but an even better one can work through and make adjustments,” Erlich said. “I just had to make adjustments and fight through it.”
The Paly offense finally got some run support going with a solo homerun by Isaac Feldstein in the 5th, which ups Feldstein’s home run count to three in the last week.
“I’m just not trying to do too much, and doing what my coach tells me to do,” Feldstein said. “Our dugout was really in it today, and Danny’s 1-2-3 inning [in the 5th] helped get us fired up to make a run.”
Even though the offense wasn’t scoring early on, Raich was satisfied with the team’s performance.
“We didn’t panic,” Raich said. “We were doing everything we had to do throughout, hitting the ball hard. But it was going straight to their guys. You can’t help it, if you hit the ball hard 10 times at guys, there is only so much you can do; you just have to make sure when you get that one window that you pull through and don’t try to do too much.”
For Feldstein, it’s always an added bonus for Paly to get a win against Gunn) no matter how it is attained.
“They really wanted to beat us, and they came out fired up,” Feldstein said. “They haven’t gotten a win in league yet, and they played a great game. In the end, I think we are just the better team.”
The Vikings travel to Los Altos High School to take on the Eagles (7-4) at 3:30 p.m. next Wednesday.