By Jeremy Balan
Win and you’re in.
That was the scenario Galileo Academy and Washington High School had in AAA play on Wednesday at Big Rec. Win and you’re in the playoffs.
The teams met in the 2009 AAA championship game last season, with Washington claiming the title with a 6-4 victory, but it was Galileo that came out on top on Wednesday, edging the Eagles 3-2.
“We’ve been battling,” said Galileo Head Coach Don Papa. “Now we control our own destiny. If we win tomorrow, we get a bye [in the first round].”
Down by one run in the bottom of the seventh inning, Washington had the tying run on third and the winning run on second, but Galileo junior first baseman Dustin Andrick snagged a hard ground ball headed down the right field line to hold off the threat.
“If that got through, I think they would have won the game,” Andrick said. “Normally on backhand plays like that, I never get it. [Earlier in the season] I had two misplays on plays like that, but on this one, I don’t know what happened, just quick reaction I guess.”
Andrick was also the starting pitcher for the Lions and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits over six innings.
“I lost four straight games coming in,” Andrick said. “I was really determined to come here and throw hard. I guess that’s what helped me get through all six innings.”
Andrick struck out five, walked two and stranded seven Washington runners to get the win.
“Dustin was awesome,” Papa said. “He got ahead and was in control. He hardly walked anyone and that’s been his nemesis.”
Washington starter Gabe Morse pitched admirably, only allowing three runs over 6 2/3 innings, striking out five.
Morse only allowed four hits, but Galileo runners consistently got into scoring position with six stolen bases.
The Lions took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single from Andrick in the first, then broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with an RBI single from senior shortstop Erik Wilson. Wilson later scored on a wild pitch for the eventual winning run.
Washington’s two runs came on a pair of sacrifice flies from senior left fielder Alex Kawano.
The two teams appear to be heading in different directions. Galileo has won two straight, including a win over previously undefeated Lowell, while Washington has lost its last five AAA games by a combined six runs.
“We’re not playing well and it obviously shows,” said Washington Head Coach Rob Fung. “Our offense is pretty anemic at times. If we miss [the playoffs] it’s because we haven’t played well. There is no other excuse for it.”
The teams will face off again today and the Eagles will encounter the tough task of beating Galileo ace and 2009 AAA Player of the Year Dylan Nelson. Nelson came on in relief of Andrick to earn the save in the seventh on Wednesday.
“You want to face the best guy in the league,” Fung said. “If we beat him, we’ll earn it. He’s the best guy in the league right now.”
Washington needs to beat Galileo and hope for Lowell victory over Lincoln to advance to the playoffs.
Although the Lions have clinched a spot in the playoffs, a win today will clinch second place in the A Division and a first round bye.