The significance of the day the Palo Alto Oaks opened their season isn’t lost on general manager Steve Espinoza.
The Los Altos High graduate noted that his semipro baseball team started play June 2 – which would have been the 100th birthday of Tony Makjavich, who managed the club for 49 years.
Espinoza was delighted with the result of the doubleheader at Palo Alto Baylands, where he said the Oaks “soundly beat the El Cerrito A’s.”
Palo Alto has won every game since, entering this week with a sparkling 12-0 record that leads the Western Baseball Association’s Stan Musial Division. The Oaks’ most recent wins came Sunday when they swept a doubleheader against their league nemesis – Fontanetti’s Athletics.
“We’ve been going at it for a long time,” Espinoza said of the rivalry.
The host Oaks flattened Fontanetti’s 10-1 in the first game, notching seven extra-base hits. Trevor Demerritt, Bryan Beres and Sheldon Daquioag each drilled two doubles, with the latter collecting four hits in the game.
Dominic Hernandez threw the first six innings to earn the win. Brand Norlander pitched the final three frames, striking out five.
The second game was closer, with the Oaks up just 1-0 after six innings. But their bats heated up as the temperature did and the team prevailed 5-0. Daquioag belted a two-run double, his second extra-base hit of the game.
Three Palo Alto pitchers combined for the shutout; Ricky Navarro, CJ Hillyer and Jacob Naval tossed three innings each.
Manager Greg Matson has a new middle infield this year featuring Demerritt at shortstop and Pedro Tostado and Travis Conroy platooning at second base.
The Oaks also have two players splitting time in center field – St. Francis High graduate Brian Fleischli and Maxx Sheehan. Both play at West Valley College.
Espinoza said other integral newcomers include Gilbert Guerra (closer/outfielder), Daquioag (outfielder/catcher), Naval (pitcher) and Gary Foster (catcher).
The veteran pitching staff “has been tough to hit,” said Espinoza, who praised Navarro, Hernandez, Norlander and Hillyer.
The Mountain View resident added that several vets have come up big at the plate, including Beres, Danny Ordonez, Julio Cortez and Allen Stiles.
The Oaks are scheduled to host a doubleheader 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Palo Alto Baylands.