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BASEBALL: Homestead Falls to Paly in CCS Quarterfinals

Vikings bats prove to be too much for Mustangs; first year coach loses eight seniors to graduation, but returns ripe crop of talent for 2012.

The Score: Palo Alto 9, Homestead 2

For one May afternoon, the PAL baseball field was host to a double dip of Central Coast Section baseball playoff action—De Anza style.

In the second Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division showdown of the day, the Palo Alto High baseball team slugged it’s way past Homestead High-Cupertino 9-2 in a 2011 CCS Division I quarterfinal matchup.

Homestead struck first, but the potent Palo Alto bats simply wouldn’t let up on this day. Paly scored three times in the second inning, sparked by a rocket shot RBI triple by No. 9 hitter Cory Tenanes that plated two teammates, and busted out a four-run fourth inning to take a commanding 7-2 lead.

Junior right-hander Ben Sneider earned the win, settling down nicely after a three-hit first inning.

“He did a good job of scattering the hits around and keeping us within striking distance,” Paly head coach Erick Raich said about his starting pitcher. “He got his curve ball working, which was really big. We have depth this year. We win games collectively and we certainly did that today.”

Homestead, who went 10-4 in league under first year head coach Chuck Blair highlighted with a win over eventual league champ Wilcox, toppled Serra High-San Mateo on Wednesday 7-2 in a first round playoff game.

A single to right from Alex Medlin set up the first score of the day. Medlin then swiped second base and scored off a Carl Gutekunst RBI single to left to put Homestead ahead 1-0.

After a two-run triple by Tenanes put Paly ahead 2-1, shortstop Austin Braff ripped the first pitch he saw into left field for an RBI single.

“They have a special team,” Blair said about Palo Alto. “We had a game plan going in and were able to stick to it early. It was fun hanging with those guys for a bit.”

A solo homer by Medin, his second hit of the afternoon, cut the Vikings lead down to only one. The Homestead slugger got an off speed pitch to hit high in the zone and he didn’t miss it. The bomb flew over the fence in right field and drew a quick grin from Coach Blair.  

Homestead got one run back, but the Palo Alto offense still had plenty of thump left in the tank.

Paly junior John Dickerson singled up the middle to open the fourth. Then after a flyout, lead-off hitter BJ Boyd reached on an error and Christoph Bono walked to load the bases.

Austin Braff walked to score one teammate then big brother T.J. Braff lined an RBI single up the middle to push across one more.

“All the way through the lineup we have people that can hit,” Austin Braff said. “We just have depth. I just want us to keep doing the same things that got us here.”

Senior Will Glazier followed with a line shot to left field that brought in Bono and Braff. Paly led 7-2 after four innings and eventually won the game, 9-2.

“It was a special year,” Blair said about his first year at the helm of the Mustangs program. “Chuck Camuso was a good friend of mine. After 11 years at Santa Clara High, I decided to apply for the job. The administration from top to bottom is first class at Homestead. We’re losing some strong seniors that really bought in to what we wanted to do here and helped us win a lot of games. Our league was tough and we tied for second place.”

Palo Alto, the No. 3 seed in the Division I draw, will play No. 2 seed Archbishop Mitty Prep-San Jose (25-5-1) on Wednesday night at San Jose Municipal Stadium.

Los Altos High defeated Los Gatos High 2-1 in the first De Anza tussle on Saturday. Los Altos will play in the Division II semis on Thursday night against Pioneer High-San Jose.

Homestead starting pitcher Ross Slaney is one of several key members of the 2011 team that returns for Coach Blair’s second season.

........................................................................................................................... 

Palo Alto 9, Homestead 2

P- 0 3 0 4 0 2 0- 9 8 0

H-1 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 2 9 4

WP: Sneider. LP: Slaney

Records: PA 26-9, 15-4 De Anza. H 18-14, 10-4 De Anza.

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