The District 52 All-Star Tournaments got off to a dramatic start on June 17 with the Pacifica 13s facing off against the Palo Alto 13s.  In this two- team tournament, the table has been set for a very exciting best of three series. But with the possibility of three games in three days, winning today’s game would provide a definite advantage.

On the mound for Palo Alto, Victor Hernandez looked like he’d knocked off the rust after after being sidelined for most of the season with an injury. With solid defensive play behind him, the Palo Alto team looked strong.

On offense, Palo Alto struck first. After reaching on a HBP to lead off the second inning, Carter Quintero stole second and then advanced to third on a pass ball. With one out, Roman Kimble drove a fly ball into left field just deep enough for Carter to tag up and score.

With solid pitching from both sides, it looked like runs would be a premium.  In the bottom of the 5th, Carter again found himself at third–this time after he’d singled, stole his second base of the game, and advanced to third on a balk.  Coming up clutch, David Fox put the ball in play and got the RBI to give Palo Alto a little more cushion with a two-run lead going into the sixth inning.

Through the first five innings, the Palo Alto defense kept Pacifica off the board.  Behind six strikeouts and key defensive plays, like Bennet Clifton’s diving catch with a runner on second, it looked as though Palo Alto’s two runs might be enough.

But Pacifica wasn’t ready to concede and in the 5th inning took advantage of Victor’s rising pitch count and reached with two walks. Taking over on the mound Arjum Ahluwalia found himself with runners at the corners and no outs. But with solid defense it seemed like the lead would be safe. But an uncharacteristic error by the defense allowed a run to score and again setup a no-outs, runners on the corners situation. After coaxing a ground ball back to the mound, Arjum got the runner at second, but the runner scored from third. Then two batters later while attempting to turn a double play, Pacifica scored another run on a throwing error by the Palo Alto defense. In the middle of the sixth, the score now stood 3-2 Pacifica.

Determined to make up for the defensive errors, Palo Alto quickly tied the score when Cal Robles ripped a line drive into center for a single, driving in Lev Weinstein. But Pacifica hoped to leave the inning with the score tied going into the 7th and final inning. With two outs, runners at first and second, and two strikes, Victor Hernandez dug his feet into the box and as the ball came hurling toward him just at the letters, he swung…and the ball screamed off his bat over the center fielder rolling all the way to the wall for a 2-RBI triple. After a solid rip up the middle by Huxley Hernandez scored Victor.

Palo Alto entered the 7th and final inning with a three-run lead. Pacifica, however, had different plans with the meat of their order (4-5-6 batters) due up in the top of the 7th.

Pacifica quickly threatened to score starting with  a walk and single to put runners on base. The next batter knocked a line drive into left field for another single (the third straight batters to reach base safely), and the lead runner tested the arm of left fielder David Fox … and lost as David fired a strike to catcher Edward Chen who calmly placed the tag for the first out of the inning.  with Pacifica’s sails deflated, closer Roman Kimble stepped in to preserve the lead and the victory with a pop up he handled himself and a strikeout to end the game with a 6-3 victory for Palo Alto.