What started as a slugfest, morphed into a pitching and ultimately turned into a dramatic finish as the Palo Alto 13s All-Stars walked off with a 6-5 win over Redwood City in the District 52 Intermediate championship game Thursday night at Morton Park.
The Intermediate Division is for 13-year-old players with a diamond configuration of 70-foot basepaths and 50-foot distance from the mound to the plate.
Palo Alto battled back from a 4-2 deficit, eventually tying the game at 5-all with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Neither team managed to push across the go-ahead run in regulation and the game went into extra innings. RWC was retired in order in the top of the eighth to set up Palo Alto’s game-winning rally.
Isaac Fredrickson led off the inning by legging out an infield hit on a slow chop to shortstop, just beating the throw. He then moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt before Lucas Lai flew out to RWC center fielder Ben De La Cruz — who played a masterful center field — making a sliding catch on his knees for the first out.
Adi Weiner followed and on the first pitch, rifled a single to right field. RWC right fielder Julian Bustamante fielded the ball cleanly and fired to the plate, but Fredrickson beat the throw to set off a wild Palo Alto celebration.
Palo Alto had to do things the hard way all tournament long in clinching the championship. It lost its second-round game to drop into the loser’s bracket. Palo Alto proceeded to beat San Carlos and Belmont-Redwood Shores to move into the championship round.
Paly beat Redwood City 11-7 Wednesday night to set up Thursday’s winner-take-all championship game.
Despite the Wednesday loss, it was RWC that grabbed initial momentum, scoring once in the top of the first inning just two batters into the game. John Tinson led off the game with a double into the right-center field gap for a double and came home to score when No. 2 hitter Hunter Taylor singled sharply to left.
Palo Alto answered back immediately, scoring twice in the bottom of the inning. Like RWC, Paly leadoff hitter Marco Arradaza opened with a double, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a Justin Fung infield hit to tie the score at 1.
Fung would eventually score on a Fredrickson sacrifice fly to give Palo Alto a 2-1 lead after one inning.
Redwood City came back with a three-run second, taking advantage of a pair of Palo Alto errors. Ben De La Cruz led off the inning by reaching on an error. Bustamante followed with a single to left and Ben De La Cruz scored on a Dominic De La Cruz infield hit, with Bustamante racing around to second.
RWC then turned to some base running chicanery to score their second run. Dominic De La Cruz broke for second on a steal, drawing a throw from the catcher.
That was the sign for Bustamante to break for home, scoring ahead of the throw to put RWC up 3-2. A Tinson sacrifice fly drove in Dominic De La Cruz and RWC was up 4-2.
Palo Alto was retired in order in the third by RWC starter Charlie Dalrymple, who worked the first seven innings and getting no decision.
But in the fourth, Paly tied the score with a pair of runs. Lai led off with a triple and scored on a Weiner groundout and Arradaza tied the score with an RBI single to right.
It was a short-lived tie, however, as Redwood City took the lead right back in the top of the fifth when Taylor walked, stole second and scored on a Dalrymple single up the middle.
Palo Alto came right back to tie the game at 5 in the bottom of the fifth when Tyler Peavey was hit by a pitch and went to third on a ground-rule double from Lee. Lai followed and hit a fly ball to deep center field. Ben De La Cruz sprinted back and made a jumping, over-the-shoulder, backhand catch for the second out of the inning. While Peavey scored on the sacrifice fly, De La Cruz’s spectacular play kept Palo Alto from taking the lead.
Dalrymple still had work to do, however, and he held up his end of the bargain by getting a weak comebacker to end the inning.
Palo Alto went to it bullpen and Adrian Lee in the fifth and settled in after giving up a run. He worked the final four innings, allowing two hits and striking out five.
Redwood City had its chance against Lee in the top of the seventh, putting runners on first and second with one out. But Lee worked out of the jam, getting back-to-back strikeouts to get his team back in the dugout.
Lee then retired Redwood City in order in the top of the eighth to set up the heroics in the bottom of the frame.
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