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.
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.”
B – Michael Li singles, Eduardo Herrera scores
W – Dane Vande Guchte singles, Avery Velasco scores
W – Jordan Wilson steals home
W – Alex Kozakiewicz reaches on a fielder’s choice, Javon Philips scores
W – Chris Hau walks, Kozakiewicz scores
Photo slideshow by Doug Ko