Baseball: Washington completes undefeated season, triple crown with win over Balboa

Washington players and coaches celebrate after the final out of their win over Balboa in the AAA championship on Thursday at AT&T Park. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

Call it the Triple Crown, call it the Trifecta, call it whatever you want — there wasn’t a need for a name, because it hadn’t been done before.

With a 4-1 win against Balboa High School in the Academic Athletic Association baseball championship on Thursday at AT&T Park, Washington High School became the first school in history to win a AAA championship in football, boys basketball and baseball in the same school year.

Washington junior starting pitcher Dane Vande Guchte sends a pitch toward the plate against Balboa on Thursday at AT&T Park. (Photo by Doug Ko)

The Eagles also wrapped up an undefeated league season and will advance to play Oakland Tech in the Transbay Championship Series, which begins Wednesday at San Francisco State University.

“The first word that comes to mind is that it’s just crazy,” said Washington head coach Rob Fung. “It’s history, it’s never been done, and this is something that no one will every take away from this group.”

Balboa took an early 1-0 lead on three singles in the top of the third inning, but it didn’t take long for the Eagles to respond.

Washington’s junior starting pitcher, Dane Vande Guchte, tied the game in the bottom of the third on a deep fly ball to the warning track in left field. Due to a base-running error, only one of two runners scored and Vande Guchte was limited to a single, but on the next at-bat the Eagles scored the eventual game-winning run.

Vande Guchte broke to second base on a delayed steal, and freshman Jordan Wilson, who was on third, broke home on the throw to second to score the go-ahead run.

“It was different being behind [early], but we knew we had our chances and knew it was going to come,” Vande Guchte said. “We weren’t scared or anything like that, we just played our game.”

The Eagles tacked on two runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Vande Guchte shut down the Buccaneers on the mound.

After allowing the lone run in the third, Vande Guchte didn’t allow a hit in the next three innings, and sophomore Chris Hau shut Balboa down in order in the seventh to collect the save.

“He’s a big player. A little guy, but a big player,” Fung said of Vande Guchte. “He gave us everything he could and he couldn’t even go that seventh inning, he left it out there.”

The lack of Balboa offense spoiled a solid start from junior Alex Arnold, who struck out three in 5 1/3 innings and kept the Bucs in the game before running into trouble in the sixth.

Balboa only got one runner in scoring position after the third, but the future seems bright, as the Bucs are only losing one senior to graduation, and have played their best baseball in the postseason, including an upset of Lowell in the semifinals.

“We started maturing and peaked at the right time,” said Balboa head coach Tom Pontino. “We’re certainly going to be back. We’re going to try our best.”

Scoring Summary

Third Inning
B – Michael Li singles, Eduardo Herrera scores
W – Dane Vande Guchte singles, Avery Velasco scores
W – Jordan Wilson steals home

Sixth Inning
W – Alex Kozakiewicz reaches on a fielder’s choice, Javon Philips scores
W – Chris Hau walks, Kozakiewicz scores


Photo slideshow by Doug Ko

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53 Comments

  1. mr golden says:

    As a father of a former AAA all star I have been to every championship game since 2000. This was by far the least talented group of players at Pac Bell since the Giants had Armando Rios. LOL. I was extremely dissapointed in the level of game play out there and was astonished at the lack of hitting when each pitcher was maxing out at 65 mph. I remember the Lowell dynasty days with Max Newman and Charlie Cutler dominating the AAA and now I see one or two legitimate players on the field yesterday, Vande Gutche and Duchene. San Francisco public school baseball is slowly becoming a joke and it’s sad to see. I would suggest all young prospects to consider SI or SH if you’re considering playing Sf high school ball because you will not get better from modern AAA competition.

    • The Pokey says:

      i completely agree.
      the same has happened for basketball too and AAA football always sucked except for a few players haha.
      but basketball not this year, but the year before was the last good year in my opinion in basketball.
      Wash and the Mission underclassmen were the only good players in my opinion this year. Next year in basketball the only good players will be the Mission underclassmen, and the rest of the league sucks extremely bad.

      Don’t look forward to seeing any AAA boys college players in these three sports anytime soon!!!

      Regardless i congratulate on Wash’s accomplish, i know a lot of kids on all 3 teams and this is amazing and this is a moment to remember.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously you do not understand the changing demographics of the city and the lack of facilities for all SF public/private schools. If you see the AAA as a joke, then do something about it. Go coach at one of the schools or are you one of those nintendo parent-coaches…….Share your talents, please.

    • BURTONIAN02 says:

      Mr. Old Man…I Mean Goldman, Its stupid people like you who look down on young kids instead of uplifting and congratulating them for their accomplishments. These kids could be doing anything else with their lives but instead their being student athletes and entertaining Old Farts like you who are still trying to live out their glory days or live out your son’s glory days. The AAA may not have the best talent because we are limited to our resources and they get kids that usually come from low income backgrounds but trust me there is plenty of talent out there. For you to tell someone to go to SI or SH is just plain stupid! Kids don’t decide where they go, Parents do, and if the parents can’t afford the school than guess what?, they’re stuck going to a school in their area. Try putting one of your damn kids in a real high school atmosphere like Balboa, Mission, Thurgood, or Burton and see what results you get! Remember these talented kids you are putting down are still young and having fun so don’t go talking down about their talents….

      • GCJ01 says:

        @BURTONIAN02….THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!!!!! COULDN’T HAVE SAID IT ANY BETTER MYSELF. Let me guess, you went to Burton? So did I (Class of ’01).

    • STYA says:

      Although this may be the truth, it’s sad that you find the need to put down kids as young as 14 to put your two cents in. The young men on this team are fully aware of Lowell’s past accomplishments, along with the long history of AAA championship teams. The boys look up to individuals such as Charlie Cutler, who have been able to break away from the relatively unsuccessful AAA League in San Francisco, and make a name for themselves in the baseball world. Coming from a former AAA PLAYER and MEMBER of the “dynastic” Lowell team, I find this post juvenile and unnecessarily harsh. I know kids joke about “my team being better” and “they aren’t as good as us” but seriously this reaches a new all time low. Also no self respecting man says “LOL.”

    • Anonymous says:

      duchene is batting like .250

  2. afan says:

    Congrats to Wash on a game well played. Bal, a young team with potential, stayed in the game through the sixth . It was hard not to smile at the end of the game, even for Bal, when your playing baseball on the World Series Champions’ home field.

    • Wash Alum 2000 says:

      Mr. Golden,
      While I agree with your overall assessment of the talent level of AAA baseball, please don’t take away from what the kids at Wash accomplished this year and congratulate the Eagles and enjoy the fact that Washington High School accomplished a feat that has never been done in over 80 years of AAA history.

      • The Pokey says:

        ^ he is just being honest. AAA is going in a downward spiral in all their sports.
        I grew up with alumni and kids that go to Wash and schools all across the city, and it is an easy comparison to see that AAA is horrible. You can be a horrible player in middle school and almost nearly make any of the 3 major AAA sports if you are semi-athletic.

        But again good job WASH a tripple crown is pretty awesome.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Let see if WASH softabll team going to BEAT LOWELL. So WASH can make HISTORY!

  4. Saw the game says:

    Mr Golden,
    not sure if it affected the game but it was a late start with Pitchers in the sun and batters in the shade, I know the A’s and Giants have a hard time hitter in twilight games so that may have contributed to the poor hitting by both teams

  5. Afan says:

    Ah mr golden, wearing rose tinted glasses and remembering the glory days when your son was a lowell player …
    Why rain on their parade? Let them enjoy their accomplishments without your putdowns.

    • The Pokey says:

      r u kidding me? that Charlie Cutler kid was amazing a couple of years back. and it is true all the talent is going to the WCAL either with scholarships or parents are just sending their kids there because they think it is better

  6. Anonymous says:

    I suggest that Mr.Golden coach one of these AAA teams since it’s a joke and he can bring his wealth of knowledge to the AAA .

  7. Alumni Ric says:

    Stop calling my Bucs win over Lowell last week an upset. It was a beatdown!!!! Plain & Simple. Plus, Balboa hit some pretty hard shots early yesterday, but they were right at people. Congrats to Washington!

    I do agree, the talent level is no where near top of the line, but those kids played there hearts out.

  8. Anonymous says:

    anyone know when the all city teams come out?

  9. SFSDFSDF says:

    Should come out on Thursday or Friday

  10. coach41 says:

    Congrats to the Eagles! It certainly is a great accomplishment. For those who are putting down the AAA as being weak, it really doesn’t matter what folks think. All the schools in the AAA still have to put their teams out there and compete with whatever they have.

    People seem to forget that the AAA schools don’t have a ton of money, facilities, coaches and other resources to draw from. I graduated from Wallenberg and we have a elementary sized gym for four basketball teams to practice in (I hear some teams practiced outdoors).

    I think the current incarnation of the AAA is a great throwback to the old days where the kids just focused on competing and not worrying about where their college scholarship is going to come from. If there is someone that talented, great. But if not, let the kids play!

  11. GCJ01 says:

    I’m going to have to agree with Coach41. You CAN NOT compare the AAA to the WCAL or BCL teams. The AAA schools are PUBLICALLY funded while the schools in the WCAL and BCL ARE NOT. So for anyone to even say that the AAA is getting weaker, you obviously have no clue to how schools are funded. Funding makes a HUGE difference. The AAA is getting by with what they have. They do not have a money tree like the WCAL schools. Before you go bashing the AAA, educate yourself first….then get off your butt and go help out the situation instead of bad mouthing it! Be a part of the solution, NOT part of the problem!

    If the AAA has proven anything, it’s the fact that they know how to make due with what they have and are doing a GREAT job at keeping things afloat dispite the lack of resources and funding.

    • Observer says:

      “So for anyone to even say that the AAA is getting weaker, you obviously have no clue to how schools are funded. Funding makes a HUGE difference.”

      What does that even mean? The AAA is getting weaker that is a fact. Funding does make a huge difference but what does that have to do with making an observation that the AAA is getting weaker?

      It doesn’t diminish what Wash did but it does provide some perspective. They were the best of one of the worst sections in the state.

      • GCJ01 says:

        The point is, there are reasons why the AAA is getting weaker. One of the people who commented (whom I will not mention) was bad mouthing the AAA without acknowledging the fact that there are reasons behind it. That isn’t fair. In the WCAL and the BCL aren’t bound by recruitment restrictions. The AAA is. So obviously, the teams in the AAA can not go and recruit like the WCAL schools can. That is the ONLY reason why they are as good as they are. The AAA doesn’t have an surplus of cash flow…the WCAL does. So for one to knock the AAA while it’s down, doesn’t make any sense; especially when the league is bound by several by-laws that restrict it from progressing.

        In summation….do not knock the AAA without acknowledging the reasons why they are in the situation they are in now. Once the situation is understood, hopefully those who keep making these comments will begin to do something about it. It makes no sense to keep saying that the AAA is weak, but yet, do not do anything about it!

        • Cats pride says:

          I’m not trying to knock the AAA but aren’t all the other public schools in the state in the same situation? Most of them seem to be doing fine. In fact a lot of them do much better than private schools.

          • GCJ01 says:

            @Cats Pride…You are, in part, correct. But you also must remember that other public schools have a larger population to gather good talent from, CONSISTENT community involvement, and probably a better athletic booster club. These are other elements that play a major factor in the equation.

  12. alumni says:

    It’s a shame that there are those people who have a need to put their two cents in and make light of the accomplishments of these kids. This is not the place to do it. If you have a comment about how weak the public school baseball is, put it out there where ALL can see. Take it to the next level and put your money and your time where your mouth is. Make it a public issue because the only one’s who really see your comments here are the kids and that’s a slap in their faces. These kids, on both teams, played their hearts out….for their school, their team (mates and coaches), their family and friends and for themselves. They play for the love of playing baseball.
    The coaches do their best with what they have. Teams are left to fundraising to make ends meet. Many, if not all coaches, volunteer their time So Mr Golden…let’s see you step up to the plate. I challenge you to take the bull by it’s horns and take charge. Make a change and turn public school baseball back to its “dynasty days” as you call it. For the love of baseball…..

    • GCJ01 says:

      I AGREE!!!!! People need to stop criticizing and step up to the plate and try to improve the situation!!!!!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you alumni @8:50. Well said.

  14. JJ says:

    Does Wash have the largest student body in the AAA? Maybe that’s why they have been dominating in most of the major sports recently? A larger student body has more athletes to choose from.

    • GCJ01 says:

      This is the enrollment for the 2009-2010 academic school year. The numbers are probably sightly different now…but I doubt it’s by much.

      1. Lowell – 2,597 students
      2. Lincoln – 2,346 students
      3. Washington – 2,283 students
      4. Galileo – 2,090 students

      Work Cited: http://www.sfusd.edu

      Wash is third on the list, so I’m guessing that they just have the better athletes, and/or have a superior coaching staff.

  15. GCJ01 says:

    Let’s just put this whole thing to rest. The AAA is the ORGINAL league in San Francisco. The WCAL and the BCL still have a LONG way to go before they even aquire that amount of history that has been made in the AAA. I’m not just talking about just in baseball, I’m talking about in all sports. As it is with any great team, league, orgnization, etc., there are down times, and the AAA is it’s down time. But do not be fooled, it is rebuilding itself. The athletes in the AAA are better than some of you AAA bashers are giving them credit for. But when the AAA is back on top the only thing that will be heard from ALL AAA bashers is SILENCE! So go a head, continue to take away from all of the championships that have been won this year, continue to bash the AAA, but when our teams become dominant again, you’ll jump on the bandwagon and look like a bunch of hypocrites! Keep brown nosing the WCAL and the BCL, they to will have a time where they will have to rebuild, then what? Then you’ll finally understand what the AAA is going through now!

    Oh, by the way, for the genius who said that people should send their kids to SI or SH, BOTH SCHOOLS WERE A PART OF THE AAA. They left in the late 60′s mainly because they didn’t want to have restrictions on who they could recruit! SO WHAT DOES THAT TELL YOU? They couldn’t hang! So the only reason why both schools are successful in sports is because they can recruit. The AAA doesn’t need that privilege to be successful….the WCAL does. Without their ability to recruit, the WCAL would be CRAP!!!!!

    Be a part of the solution, NOT a part of the problem!

    • WCAL Alum says:

      Actually the true reason SI left in 67 and SHC after the 69 season was a combination of competition and lack of security in AAA events. I still remember the 69 AAA championship that SH won and the fight that prompted then (as SI) to get out of the league.

    • Cats pride says:

      oh yea SI really couldn’t hang. Look at the champions from 58-67 http://www.cifsf.org/Sports/footballchampions.pdf . SI was either the varsity league or turkey day champion 5 of those 8 years, so saying they couldn’t hang is a little off.

      • WCAL Alum says:

        The comment made about SH/SI not being able to hang, wasnt worth a response – it was so ignorant of the facts.

        • GCJ01 says:

          If it wasn’t worth a response, why did you respond?

          • grad says:

            As an SI grad, I feel that the comments from the WCAL supporters are becoming condescending. Yes, there are statistics which show the following: how many D1 athletes come from the WCAL, head to head records against the AAA, records from decades past, statistics which show how tough CCS is, etc. However, what is the point of putting down trolls? When WCAL supporters retaliate and put down trolls, the WCAL stoops to the trolls’ level. At the same time the retaliation makes the WCAL supporters look like snobs, and it can hurt the feelings of AAA kids who play their hearts out. Something else to consider. There are a bunch of public/private HS’s that field much better teams than SI (especially from SOCAL). How would you feel if they “tooted their horn” constantly? Conclusion: Schools will have up/down years. Let’s try to make each other better. Let’s take the high ground and ignore the trolls. Feeding the trolls does more harm than good.

    • GCJ01 says:

      But I love how all of you WCAL supporters overlook the fact that y’all have to recruit just to stay competitive. And no, both SI and SH left due to the recruitment restrictions that were about to be placed on them and the changing demographics, not because of the lack of competition and lack of security. Although that 1969 AAA basketball championship was the last time there was a major fight at a basketball championship prior to this years.

      • IC Stars says:

        Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Ignatius do not recruit. They both left the AAA for legitimate reasons, mainly the competition level and safety concerns.

        Also, the AAA is not the “original” league of the City. There was a baseball-only league in the 1890′s where SH and SI competed on the collegiate level with Stanford, Cal, St. Mary’s and Santa Clara.

        The first prep-only league was the San Francisco Athletic League which was part of the larger Academic Athletic League (a misnomer since it was actually a section). That started later in the 1890′s.

  16. Anonymous says:

    What is Balboa’s population?

  17. Roll Cats says:

    Congratulations Washington on a historic year for your athletic program. Regardless of whether some believe your accomplishments are “watered down”, winning titles in the 3 major sports is an incredible feat and you deserve to enjoy your victories for awhile. Talent is not the only thing that matters in sports and the way the Washington student-athletes pulled together on the different championship teams is a testament to team chemistry. Great work this season, way to do it with class!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Any predictions for first team all city’s?

  19. OldWashGal says:

    I see that Mistah Goldman could not be bothered to respond to the responses. That speaks louder than anything he could have said. Bet he’s enjoying his Prop 13 status.

  20. Wash98alum says:

    Go Wash…congratulations on this historic event. An undefeated season, ending with a triple crown. It makes me proud to be an alumni. My father and I saw that game and what we saw was a wonderful high school baseball game. Considering the previous scores when Bal and Wash earlier played, I expected a slaughter. Credit Balboa for keeping it close till the late innings. Being a little older, all I wanted to see was a good game between two teams, especially in a championship at AT&T. Mr. Goldman, your comments made me so glad I have a father like I do. As a former high school athlete myself, all that was expected from me was hard work and determination to do my best. What I saw from both teams was that and more….. Mr. Goldman perhaps that’s what you should expect as well…….I know it’s a little early, but any predictions to who will be the two teams next year…GO WASH.

  21. Old School says:

    Part of the reason why AAA is so weak in baseball is due to the lack of facility. Park and Rec is allowing soccer to use any part of the baseball field for a fee, and take a look at the conditions of some of the fields out there, it’s a total disgrace. I remember Aptos not too long ago spending a ton of money renovating their park, and for the first few months the place looks great, now it looks horrible with weeds growing in the infield, and all torn up, just a waste of our tax dollar. Take a look at some of the fields down the Peninsula, it’s beautiful and not run down.
    San Francisco Park and Rec, please take pride in your fields and make them available and baseball will return to the city.

  22. Scott says:

    It was a great feat by Washington, and history was made, It doesnt matter if this was the WCAL or AAA, the kids played hard and deserved it.

  23. Ari Gold says:

    People! People! Now, now… its JUST HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS!!! but on another note wcal always over aaa. It will be like this for all eternity. either accept it or go to your grave with your delusions.

  24. Anonymous says:

    O’Koyea Dickson of Washington HS was just drafted in the 12th round of the MLB Draft. I am a Lowell alumnus, but I’m proud of him representing the AAA. The AAA may not have as much talent as the other leagues, but it sure feels good to have one of our own get drafted.

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