Burlingame and Menlo-Atherton high schools knew they had a shot at winning a league championship when the season began.
With three games to go including a final game between the two squads, the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division crown will belong to one of these teams.
Burlingame and M-A entered the week at least two full games clear of the rest of the league in the standings.
The Panthers were in position to claim a share of the league title last season, but were unable to get the job done, something Burlingame coach Shawn Scott attributed to his team’s complacency.
“I think this group of seniors has taken it upon themselves to get there,” Scott said. “You don’t take this game lightly no matter how well you’re playing. I think they’ve understood that.”
But to get where they are now, they have had to rely heavily on solid defense and limiting mistakes.
“I think we’re able to do more fundamentally this year than last year,” Scott said. “These kids this year understand the importance of fundamentals. These kids understand why they are doing it every day.”
Those fundamentals have helped the pitching staff to a 2.05 team ERA, highlighted by Grant Goodman.
The junior right-hander has been stellar and carried a 1.13 ERA into this week.
“We really do stress pitching to contact,” Scott said. “We want them to because of the type of defense we have.”
Goodman also has 67 strikeouts in 55²?³ innings.
M-A has been winning games in a much different way than in the past.
The Bears have six players with 13 or more RBIs heading into this week and have scored 10 or more runs eight times.
But it is their pitching that has made the difference.
They sit at 4-1 in games decided by two or fewer runs.
The Panthers won both matchups a year ago.
The second of a two-game set between Burlingame and M-A is on Friday in Atherton.