Palo Alto sophomore Owen Plambeck crushed two home runs Saturday, powering the Vikings past Carlmont, 7-2.
The Vikings (3-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second against Scots right-hander Matt Seubert, but the senior settled in to hold the Vikings offense in check until the seventh when Paly broke it open with a five-run rally in its final at bat.
Seubert was nails through six innings and only got into trouble in the seventh by virtue of a leadoff double and two infield hits. The senior worked 6 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out 10 and walking one. With the loss, Seubert’s record falls to 1-1.
Carlmont manager Rich Vallero was upbeat about his team’s performance after the game and raved about his senior starter.
“Seubert is an assassin on the mound,” Vallero said. “He’s trying to go after guys. We’ve been talking this last week about mental toughness and competing when adversity is hitting us or we’re behind. And they responded.”
Carlmont (4-2-1) has one more non-league tune-up on Tuesday, hosting Kalani High School from Hawaii, before opening Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division Wednesday against Burlingame.
“Their pitcher, Seibert, is really good,” Palo Alto head coach Erick Raich said. “That slider is a big-time pitch. With him on the mound, they’re going to be really, really tough.”
Palo Alto is really tough as well. Despite a sub-.500 record, the Vikings have played great through their non-league schedule, dropping four straight against four powerhouse programs to start the year. All were low-scoring ballgames, falling to St. Ignatius, 5-3; St. Francis, 4-3; Serra, 6-2; and San Ramon Valley, 4-3 — and all this without star senior southpaw Danny Erlich, who has yet to pitch this season due to a herniated disc.
Carlmont has been affected by injury as well. The Scots’ cornerstone shortstop, Aaron Pleschner, broke his foot on opening day when he fouled a pitch off his foot on his first swing of the year. Pleschner was especially missed in the seventh inning Saturday, when Carlmont played a groundball to short into a hit that opened the door for Paly’s five-run rally.
“[Palo Alto] kind of busted it open there at the end … but I feel like we held our own,” Vallero said. “The box score isn’t going to look like it … but you take that away and we’re right there, pitch for pitch.”
Palo Alto led all the way after Plambeck’s first-inning bomb, which came on a first-pitch challenge fastball, as the sophomore drove it well over the left-center wall giving the Vikings a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Paly junior Phil Lewis caught a hanging slider and drove it off the right-center wall for a one-out triple. Lewis then scored on an RBI groundout off the bat of Noah Phillips, giving the Vikings a 2-0 lead.
Carlmont got on the board in the fourth. Facing Paly’s winning pitcher Issac Kasevich in relief, Kyle Barret led off the frame with a double then advanced around the bases on a pair of wild pitches, cutting the Vikings’ lead to 2-1. Carlmont had a chance to tie it in the inning when junior Aaron Albaum advanced to third base with one out, but the Scots could not produce a clutch swing of the bat to drive him home. Carlmont would go on to twice strand the bases loaded, and left nine on base throughout.
In the top of the seventh, Paly sent 11 batters to the plate. The Vikings got an RBI from Daniel Tacha-Fram to score Lewis. With Carlmont right-hander Vinny Bologna on in relief, Bowen Gerould smashed a two-RBI double to plate Phillips and Tacha-Fram. Plambeck followed by launching a two-run homer to left — his second of the game.
Carlmont scored one in the bottom of the frame. After loading the bases, Seubert was hit by a pitch to force home junior Julian Billot with the game’s final run.
Plambeck also threw the final two innings for Paly to close it out, earning his first save of the year.
“We did a great job,” Raich said. “We staffed it. Our guys made some big pitches with a lot of runners on. It’s about scattering hits, scattering runners, leaving them there.”
There was a scary moment in the sixth inning when Paly catcher Laurence Han fouled a pitch off his face. Han was immediately pulled from the game by Raich and sent to the hospital. According to Raich, Han should be OK, but sustained two minor orbital fractures of the eye socket and will be further evaluated on Monday.