Photo By: Town Crier file photo
St. Francis High pitcher Michael Strem threw a perfect game in the Lancers’ playoff opener against Monta Vista last week.
In last week’s Central Coast Section Division I playoff opener, Michael Strem pitched the first perfect game in St. Francis High baseball history. Now he wants to help the Lancers accomplish something they haven’t done in recent history.
It’s been 12 years since St. Francis last won a section title.
“At the start of the season, our goal was to win CCS,” said Strem, who needed only 66 pitches to complete his rare feat in the 2-0 win over Monta Vista May 15, “and we’re halfway there.”
Top-seeded St. Francis (27-4) can get a step closer to that goal with a win in today’s semifinal against No. 5 Palo Alto (18-15), scheduled 7 p.m. at Municipal Stadium in San Jose.
Strem is scheduled to be on the mound for the Lancers, who beat Paly 3-1 Feb. 23. The senior, who didn’t pitch that day, expects the Vikings to be a formidable foe.
“They’re a good overall team,” he said. “We’ve got to play well to beat them.”
While the righty knows he can’t top his perfect game – the first of his baseball career – Strem said Sunday, “I’m ready to go.”
He made such quick work of 16th-seeded Monta Vista that his arm felt good enough to pitch in relief Saturday. He threw five pitches to get the final out in the 3-0 quarterfinal win over No. 9 Valley Christian. Starter John Gavin earned the win, allowing six hits and striking out seven.
Strem struck out eight in his gem, scoreless until the sixth. That’s when the Boston College-bound pitcher started thinking he could achieve perfection.
“I couldn’t really focus on it until we scored, which was a relief,” Strem said. “Taking the lead gave me more adrenaline because we were in position to win.”
Mark Cardinalli drove in both runs for the Lancers in a game Strem won’t soon forget.
“I’ll remember it for the rest of my life,” he said. “It was special.”
Eagles ousted in opener
Although Los Altos didn’t go far in the CCS Division II playoffs – losing Thursday’s opener 10-0 at No. 5 Willow Glen – first-year coach Donnie Ecker said just getting there was an accomplishment under the circumstances.
“If you would have told me I was going to lose my three top pitchers – Lambie Lanman, Matt Bicker and Nick Ni – to season-ending injuries, and I was going to have one senior in our program, but (we) were going to make CCS, I would have said, ‘No way,” he said.
James Oleson took the loss for the Eagles (16-15), who totaled four hits, two by Steven McLean.