Menlo out to defend CCS championship 

The Menlo School baseball team and the San Francisco 49ers have something in common: Both teams have reached numerous championship games and neither has lost once there.

Menlo (25-5) will put that streak to the test as it faces Santa Cruz in the Central Coast Section Division III championship game Saturday at Municipal Stadium in San Jose.

“We know the drill,” Menlo coach Craig Schoof said of his team’s return to the CCS title game. “The nerves and jitters aren’t there.”

It is Menlo’s fifth trip to the CCS title game and second straight under Schoof. If Menlo wins, it would be the second time under Schoof that Menlo has won back-to-back CCS titles.

“There are a lot of coaches that don’t get the chance to win one,” Schoof said.

They are one step closer to winning another after beating Carmel 9-8 in nine innings on Tuesday in the semifinals and Schoof said defense is the key come Saturday.

Though, stiff competition is nothing new to Menlo, having already played fellow CCS teams Palo Alto and St. Francis earlier in the season.

“We played a lot of good teams,” Schoof said. “Those emotions and talent level we’ve seen before.”

With much of the team returning from last season, the goal became clear for the Knights: win another championship.

“The motto this year was ‘individuals win awards, teams win championships,’” Schoof said.

Two players who have excelled are Freddy Avis and Jake Bruml.

The Pomona-Pitzer bound Bruml has starred at the plate and on the mound. He is hitting a team-best .461 with seven home runs and 43 RBIs. Bruml has been untouchable on the mound of late, having allowed only one run in his past 16²?³ innings. He highlighted the run by throwing a no-hitter against Sacred Heart Cathedral in the opener of the CCS playoffs.

Avis has also been stellar with a .452 average, three home runs and 36 RBIs. His 100 strikeouts on the mound lead the team.

Menlo (25-5) vs. Santa Cruz (15-14)

WHAT: Central Coast Section Division III championship
WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.m.
WHERE: Municipal Stadium, San Jose

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Zack Farmer

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