By Bonta Hill
Extending its undefeated streak in league play to 15 games, Washington High School defeated Lincoln 7-2 on Thursday at Big Rec to advance to their seventh straight Academic Athletic Association championship game.
The Eagles scored three runs in the first inning, which was all Washington starter Dane Vande Guchte needed, as he allowed only four hits and two runs to collect the complete-game victory.
“Coming into the game, I just wanted to throw strikes, make them hit the ball, and trust my defense,” Vande Guchte said.
After Lincoln went down in order in the top of the first, Washington catcher Alex Kozakiewicz got the Eagles on the board with an RBI single in the bottom half that scored Vande Guchte. Kozakiewicz advanced to second on the play, then stole third and scored on the catchers throwing error. By the time the first inning was over, Washington was ahead 3-0.
“We knew we had to come out strong, but we went down one, two, three and didn’t give ourselves a chance,” said Lincoln head coach Eric Calloway. “It was an uphill battle from there.”
Lincoln would hang around though, and pitcher Josh Burnoski came on in the second inning and pitched effectively, giving up just two earned runs the rest of the way.
When Lincoln rallied in top of the sixth and cut the Washington lead to 5-2, the Eagles put the icing on the cake with two runs in the bottom of the seventh – on a failed pickoff attempt by Lincoln – that scored Kozakiewicz and Paul Duchene.
“It’s never easy to beat a team three times in a season, and [Burnoski] battled out there and kept Lincoln in the game,” said Washington head coach Rob Fung. “We just want to go there and play good baseball.”
W – Alex Kozakiewicz singles, Dane Vande Guchte scores
W – Kozakiewicz scores on a throwing error
W – Chris Hau singles, Paul Duchene scores
L – Jeremiah Naraja scores on a throwing error
W – Shaquan Robinson doubles, Kozakiewicz scores
W – Thomas Tomioka walks, Chris Hau scores
L – C.J. Wong grounds out, Josh Burnoski scores
W – Kozakiewicz and Duchene score on a throwing error