Well, it was definitely worth the wait.
After a near two-hour rain delay, the Palo Alto High baseball team wasn’t even sure they would get to play on Saturday night.
In the end, not only did the Paly bunch get its 2011 Central Coast Section Division I Baseball Championship Game in, they made a little history too.
Junior Austin Braff dropped in an RBI single to shallow right field that allowed speedy lead-off man BJ Boyd to score from second base, giving Palo Alto a dramatic 5-4 walk-off victory over San Benito High in the CCS Title Game Saturday evening at San Jose Municipal Stadium in San Jose.
All even at four, Boyd reached on a San Benito throwing error that flew into the Palo Alto dugout. With Boyd standing on second base, Braff went with the pitch and dropped the ball over the head of the Balers second baseman into shallow right-center field. The centerfielder jogged up to pick up the ball, giving Boyd plenty of time to jet around third base and score the fifth and final run.
“I looked back and saw the outfielder walking up to the ball slowly,” Boyd said. “I just turned on the jets after that and knew I had to score. I didn’t even look at my coach at third.”
Boyd crossed home plate and threw his helmet high into the sky before being mobbing by an elated bunch of Vikings players and coaches. It’s the second CCS title this season for Boyd, who was also a member of the CCS champion Palo Alto football team this school year.
“The letterman jacket is going to look good,” Boyd said with a grin.
The win gives the baseball program its first CCS title in school history, joining the girls basketball team, the girls volleyball team and the football squad as 2010-2011 Palo Alto High CCS champions.
“It’s unbelievable,” Braff said after his title clinching hit. “I feel so spoiled.”
Inclement weather rolled in during the second of three CCS title matchups on Saturday. The light rain fell for the majority of the late afternoon, but didn’t start really coming down until right around the scheduled first pitch time at 7 pm.
After a lengthy delay to allow the rough, wet patch to pass, first pitch came in the title tilt at 8:56 pm.
“That will be a game that will stick with me forever,” Palo Alto head coach Erick Raich said. “In championship games, talent goes out the door. The grit and the grind comes through. They’ll always be remembered because they’re the first.”
Heavy winds and chilly conditions still greeted the players throughout the late night contest.
Senior Cory Tenanes tripled to the gap to get things going for Paly in the third. Boyd then reached on a dropped fly ball—one of four Balers errors on the night—allowing Tenanes to score. Austin Braff drove in Boyd later on in the frame to put Paly ahead 2-0 after three.
San Benito, the No. 5 seed in the Division I draw, roared back in the very next inning, putting three runs on the board to overtake the No. 3 seeded Vikings.
Catcher Jacob Tonascia unloaded a deep two-run homer to left field that tied the score at two. A throwing error allowed the Balers to score one more run later on in the third.
Senior Drake Swezey relieved starter Ben Sneider after the home run and went the rest of the way to earn the win for Paly.
“I knew my offense would supply the runs,” Swezey said. “Personally, I’m one of those guys that gets better late in games. I started getting a better feel on my curve ball.”
Swezey allowed one Balers run in the fifth inning, but settled in nicely and struck out three of four Balers hitters he face in the top of the seventh. The final two went down swinging on some high heat.
“I got hit with a pitch in the inning before,” Swezey said. “It got me pretty pumped up. I felt really good when I went back out there.”
Palo Alto fell in the CCS Division II title game in 2010 to Burlingame 7-4.
Palo Alto 5, San Benito 4
S- 0 0 0 3 1 0 0- 4 10 4
P-0 0 2 2 0 0 1 – 5 6 2
WP: Swezey LP: Gilles