By Jeremy Balan
“He does it all” is a common sports cliche that is used to describe standout players in many different sports, but if you used those words to describe Galileo senior Dylan Nelson’s performance on Thursday, it would not be hyperbole.
Nelson played the role of ace, slugger and closer in the Lions’ 10-8 win over Balboa in the AAA semifinals at Big Rec.
After six strong innings on the mound from Nelson, Galileo held a comfortable 10-2 lead heading into the seventh and junior left-hander Dustin Andrick came on in relief.
Nelson continued to play at first base, but Andrick allowed all five batters he faced to reach base, cutting the lead to 10-5.
Galileo Head Coach Don Papa then called upon Nelson to essentially come on in relief of his own start.
Nelson took the mound again, allowed two inherited runners to score and one of his own, before striking out Balboa second baseman Wilson Radford to end the game with the tying run on second base.
“The crowd was really loud and got my adrenaline going, but I wasn’t too worried” Nelson said. “I just wanted to get the game over with. I thought it would be more routine than it was.”
Nelson and Andrick also had 3-for-4 performances at the plate, with two RBIs each.
“They’re the heart of the team,” Papa said of Nelson and Andrick. “They’ve got guts.”
The six-run seventh inning put Balboa within a hit of tying the game up, but the late rally didn’t take away the sting of defeat.
“It was tough to get that close but still miss it,” said Balboa Head Coach Tom Pontino.
Balboa opened the scoring in the first inning after a leadoff double from senior center fielder Andrew Yee and and RBI groundout by Chris Pulusian, but the Nelson held the Buccaneers without a hit for the next three innings.
“That’s why he could be the MVP of the league,” Pontino said of Nelson. “That’s the kind of kid he is.”
Galileo took the lead with two runs in the second, then pushed the lead to 9-1 with seven runs in the fourth
The Lions will face Washington in a rematch of the 2009 AAA championship game at AT&T Park on Thursday. The two teams split their regular-season series, but Washington blew out Galileo 27-2 in the final game of the season.
“We have to play well to beat them,” Papa said. “Washington beat us pretty good last week, so maybe there will be a little bit of revenge.”
B – Chris Pulusian groundout to second, Andrew Yee scores
G – Nelson single to left, William Kay scores
G – Nelson steals third, scores on throwing error
G – Kay hit by pitch, Jonathan Yu scores
G – Nelson single to left, Young Ene scores
G – Dustin Andrick single to right, Raphael Vergara and Kay score
G – Erik Wilson double to left, Nelson scores. Andrick scores on throwing error
G – Garret Kwong double to right, Wilson scores
B – Michael Li scores on wild pitch
G – Wilson reaches on error, Nelson scores
B – Simon Huana triples to center, Alex Arnold and Wilson Radford score
B – Yee single to center, Huana scores
B – Fernando Guatemala groundout, Yee scores
B – Patrick Perez infield single to shortstop, Anthony Auerbach scores
B – Li single to right, Pulusian scores
Washington 8, Lowell 5
Washington opened up a 8-0 lead, but held off a seventh-inning rally to edge top-seeded Lowell 8-5 at Big Rec on Thursday.
Senior starting pitcher Gabe Morse threw five shutout innings to get the win and hit an RBI triple in the first inning to open up an early lead. Sophomore Dane Vande Guchte led off the game with a home run and the Eagles never trailed in the game.
“They made it too interesting for me, in all honesty,” said Washington Head Coach Rob Fung. “But they calmed themselves down. We had some seniors out there who pulled them together on the mound and we were able to finish it off.”
The win caps a hectic week for the Eagles, who had to beat Galileo on April 29 to force a playoff with Lincoln. Washington then dispatched Lincoln on Monday and cruised over Wallenberg on Tuesday in the first round of the AAA playoffs.
“I’m sure a lot of teams wrote us off,” Fung said. “We put a statement down against Galileo. We were looking at [potential matchups] and I said ‘fourth is not bad.’ It’s OK that we got Lowell. It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season.”
The Eagles will face off against Galileo in the final on Thursday, most likely against Lions’ ace Dylan Nelson, who they tagged for 14 runs over three inning in their last meeting.
“I hope the kids will have confidence [against Nelson],” Fung said. “But it’s a new ball game and we can’t assume anything.”