Recap: Vikings fall to Homestead, 2-1, in 16 innings

Aaron Chum, Author

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After a grueling 16-inning game, the Palo Alto High School baseball team fell to Homestead High School, 2-1, Tuesday afternoon at Paly in the first game of a Santa Clara Valley Athletic League third place series.

After 11 innings of back and forth scoreless ball, the Mustangs (16-13, 10-4) broke the 1-1 stalemate against the Vikings (16-14, 11-5) with a run in the top of the 16th. Despite not getting a hit in the inning, the Mustangs loaded the bases with no outs on a walk, a throwing error by junior pitcher Danny Erlich and an intentional walk. Homestead outfielder Cole Lang was able to get a sacrifice fly just deep enough to drive in third baseman Anthony Robbins, giving the Mustangs a 2-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

The Vikings had one last shot to tie the game in the bottom of the 16th inning. After senior shortstop Michael Strong flew out, senior right fielder Austin Poore hit a one-out single and subsequently stole second base. Junior pinch hitter Noah Phillips was hit by a pitch and senior first baseman Rowan Thompson hit another single. But with the bases loaded, junior pinch hitter Daniel Tachna-Fram grounded into a double play, ending the game.

The Vikings used three pitchers to shut down the Mustangs for most of the game. Junior Chris Smith started the game and went six innings, allowing one run. Senior Rohit Ramkumar pitched five shutout innings as the middleman. Erlich finished the game, pitching five innings and allowing the final run in the 16th inning.

“Our pitchers all pitched great,” Poore said. “We’ve lost a lot of close games and it’s frustrating to not get any run support for them, especially when they pitch the way they did today. They all came out aggressive and pretty much dominated a good hitting team in Homestead.”

The Mustangs drew first blood against Smith in the third inning, when Homestead converted a leadoff single by catcher Lane Robinette into a sacrifice fly.

The Vikings responded to tie the game at one apiece in the fifth inning, when a ground out by senior designated hitter Isaac Feldstein scored senior left-fielder Sean Harvey.

The series shifts to Homestead for game two at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, where the Vikings hope to find better luck with their bats.

“I think we just need to keep swinging the bats the way we did today,” Poore said. “We hit a lot of balls hard towards the gaps that got knocked down by the wind, and their outfielders had us positioned really well. If some of those hits start to fall, we should be in good shape.”