By Jeremy Balan
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — The Washington High School baseball team may be the defending Academic Athletic Association champion with a key core of seniors returning, but its first two games of the season have shown it has plenty of room for improvement.
The Eagles were in contention for most of their non-league game on the road against El Camino and held a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning, but gave up nine unanswered runs in two innings to lose 10-2.
The loss follows another in their season-opener on Saturday, a 17-3 rout at the hands of Sonoma Valley, in which the Eagles (0-2) committed seven errors.
“We have some growing to do and it’s more than I expected,” said Washington head coach Rob Fung. “I thought, with the guys returning from last year, there would be a little more leadership, but it seems like you always have to pull it out of them.”
Washington sophomore center fielder Jordan Wilson broke a 1-1 tie with a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth inning and senior starting pitcher Avery Velasco appeared to be cruising after allowing a lone run in the first, but the game took a quick turn in the bottom half.
The Colts (1-0), who are the defending Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division champions, responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, capped by a chopped, ground ball RBI single into left field from senior catcher D.J. Peluso. Peluso went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and broke the game open with a two-RBI single in the sixth inning to extend the El Camino lead to 8-2.
“We’re a little challenged swinging the bat this early, but we have guys at the top of the lineup who can run and some pretty good contact guys,” said El Camino head coach Carlos Roman. “When we get the opportunity, we’re going to put pressure on the defense and we did get some balls up in the air and off the fence here.”
Even though the Colts had 12 hits and 22 baserunners, Roman was more impressed with his pitching staff.
El Camino junior Josh Eclavea started the game and allowed one run on two hits in four innings, then left-hander Kyle Mack followed with two innings and allowed the go-ahead Washington run before the Colts scored late to give him the win.
“The pitchers were competing and throwing strikes, and we have guys behind them who can play,” Roman said. “We’re not going to hit like we did the past five or six years, but it’s a different style of winning a ballgame.”
Standout senior Dane Vande Guchte, who also plays on the Washington basketball team, made his first start of the season at shortstop and went 1-for-3 with a run scored and a stolen base, but may miss more games for the Eagles if the basketball team advances in the AAA playoffs, which begin on Friday.
“He just makes a world of difference and our infield is a lot different with him in the lineup,” Fung said. “He’s our guy and everyone knows that.”
W – Christopher Yee singles, Dane Vande Guchte scores
EC – D. J. Peluso reaches on an error, Armando Moncada scores
W – Jordan Wilson sacrifice fly, Ryan Lam scores
EC – Moncada singles, Brett Boletini and David Jimenez score
EC – Peluso singles, Moncada scores
EC – Jimenez walks, Nick Moisant scores
EC – Peluso singles, Dominic Giuliani and Boletini score
EC – Emiliano Rios singles, Jimenez scores
EC – Peluso steals home (double steal)