By Bonta Hill
There will be a new champion crowned in the Academic Athletic Association on May 12 at AT&T Park.
On Wednesday at the Moscone Rec Center, defending champion Galileo Academy was eliminated from postseason contention with a 5-1 loss to Lowell High School.
With the win, Lowell (17-8-1, 11-1) clinches a first-round bye in the AAA playoffs, and Galileo’s (8-8, 7-6) loss gives the final playoff spot in the A Division to Lincoln.
Lowell junior starting pitcher Nick Tam threw a complete game, allowing only three hits while striking out five, and the Cardinals took advantage of three Galileo errors in the top of the fifth inning to score three runs.
Galileo head coach Don Papa admitted after the game that he needed to work harder for his young team, but noted that a mediocre offense was too much to overcome this season.
“We’ve had a tough year,” Papa said. “The seniors are really wonderful kids, but we didn’t have much hitting. We lost too many close games and it bit us. After making the playoffs for the past 14, 15 years, this is a little humbling, but I didn’t do the best job I can do and this will teach me things that I need to work on.”
Tam and his teammates showed no sympathy, as they’ve had this game circled on their calendar all season long, after Galileo knocked them out of last year’s AAA playoffs.
After giving up a run on a bloop single from outfielder Kyle Wilson that scored senior Dustin Andrick in the first inning, Tam settled in and dominated the overmatched Galileo offense.
At one point Tam sat down 11 Lions in a row, and the Galileo offense rarely sent a ball into the outfield.
“You don’t have to pitch the hardest to get guys out,” Tam said. “I kind of got tired towards the end of the game, but I battled through it.”
Andrick, who pitched his last game for Galileo, kept the Lions in the game by escaping trouble through the first four innings with timely pitches, but going into the top of the fifth down 2-1, Galileo’s defense doomed them.
After Lowell right fielder Andy Glickfeld opened the inning with a double to left field, Andrick got three of the next four Cardinals batters to hit ground balls at Galileo infielders, but each was botched with an errant throw.
Andrick then approached the Lowell batter on deck and was ejected after a heated exchange of words.
“[Dustin] was a little frustrated over the errors that would have got us out of the inning, and the players can make those plays,” Papa said. “We tried to guide the ball instead of just throwing it. I feel bad for Dustin because he’s a senior and today was his last game instead of tomorrow.”
For Lowell, they have another date with Galileo on Thursday before Friday’s showdown against undefeated Washington.
“Nick Tam has done a fantastic job for us all season and this is a game we wanted, because Galileo eliminated us from the playoffs last year,” Donohue said. “I tell you though, Galileo has a good team and they have a lot of spirit behind them, but I’m proud of the fact that we’ve been able to win 11 out of the last 12 games.”
L – Lowell run
G – Kyle Wilson singles, Dustin Andrick scores
L – Oscar Gates-Kent singles, Nick Magyari scores
L – Magyari reaches on an error, Andy Glickfeld scores
L – Michael Sera reaches on an error, Aaron Leong and Charles Nguyen score