How Palo Alto toppled Wilcox to celebrate SCVAL baseball championship

PALO ALTO — Wilcox took the lead on two occasions early in Friday’s Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship game at Palo Alto.

The Vikings answered in the bottom half of each of those innings, once to draw even and then to take the lead with two runs in the bottom of the second.

Once they had the lead they never let it go in a 4-2 victory.

With the win, Palo Alto (24-5) put the finishing touch on two of its goals — adding the SCVAL tournament championship to the regular-season De Anza Division title they’d already captured. Now the team turns its attention to the big prize, a Central Coast Section championship.

“I’m super proud of this team,” said Palo Alto coach Pete Fukuhara, who noted the absence of injured Arizona-commit Xavier Esquer.

“We took care of our job by winning league,” winning pitcher Danny Peters said. “And now we’re closer to our big goal, to win CCS.”

Peters, also Palo Alto’s football quarterback the past three seasons, went 5 ⅓ innings and improved to 7-2 on the season. He is headed to San Francisco State in the fall to play baseball

Wilcox (20-9) took the lead in the top of the first when Patrick Sanchez doubled and scored on a single by Alan Ramirez.

In the bottom half of the inning, Palo Alto tied it with a manufactured run. Leadoff batter Henry Bolte drew a walk. Wilcox hurler Jesse Gutierrez threw over to first base twice before making his first pitch to the plate. Bolte took off and stole second.

That was Bolte’s 46th stolen base of the season.

“An incredible player and a great young man, a pleasure to be around,” Fukuhara said. “That’s just how fast he is. And what great instincts he has on the bases.”

The Texas-commit is also batting .455 with 12 homers.

Bolte took third on Charlie Bates’ fly out to center and scored on Rowan Felsch’s tapper back to the mound. Gutierrez thought of coming home with the ball, went to first instead where Felsch was called safe.

Bolte’s theft was the 118th of the 29-game season for Palo Alto.

Freshman Matthew Tiendas singled home Anthony Menenses as Wilcox went back up 2-1 in the second.

An apparent third run on a sacrifice fly for Wilcox later in the second was negated when the runner on third was called out on an appeal play for leaving third too soon.

Paly loaded the bases in the bottom of the second and scored runs on an RBI walk to Bolte and an RBI hit by pitch to Bates

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Peters settled down and threw three scoreless innings before being pulled with one out and one on in the sixth.

“I just needed to get my mind right and get my groove back in the third inning,” Peters said. “They came out strong, give them credit. That was the most energy of any team we’ve played.”

Jack Haight relieved Peters in the sixth and served up a double-play ground ball on the first pitch he threw.

Felsch added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with a shot over the right-field fence, his sixth home run of the season.

Haight, a 5-foot-8, 155-pounder who gave the Chargers a markedly different look than the 6-4, 230 Peters, retired the side in the seventh for the save.

Wilcox left-hander Jesse Gutierrez went 5 ⅔, walking two and striking out seven.

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