Baseball: Sacred Heart Cathedral’s pitching holds down Lowell in Dick Murray final

Sacred Heart Cathedral pinch runner Dennis Light (right) is tagged out by Lowell second baseman Nick Magyari on Tuesday at Westborough Park in South San Francisco. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

By Jeremy Balan

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — The Lowell High School baseball team has proven it can pitch with San Francisco’s West Catholic Athletic League teams this season, but it’s not quite up to the task at the plate.

After a 1-0 loss to Riordan on Friday, the Cardinals were shut out again by Sacred Heart Cathedral in a 2-0 loss in the Dick Murray tournament championship game Tuesday at Westborough Park.

Without using top pitcher and reigning City Player of the Year Chris Miguel, three Irish pitchers combined for the shutout.

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior pitcher Mike Wallace winds up for a pitch against Lowell on Tuesday at Westborough Park in South San Francisco. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

Junior starter Mike Wallace pitched five innings — striking out six while allowing just two hits — to get the win, senior Jack Harrington pitched an inning of relief, and sophomore Tyler Martinez came on in the seventh to pick up the save.

“Wallace is not as good as Chris, but he’s on his way,” said Sacred Heart head coach Brian Morgan. “They were getting some good rips near the end of the game and we thought it was time for Martinez to see what he could do. He got his feet wet today and hopefully that pays dividends down the line. He’s certainly a talented young man.”

Lowell junior starter Elijah Saunders pitched a solid game as well, allowing just two runs on five hits in five innings.

He worked himself into trouble in the second inning after allowing an RBI single to Sacred Heart senior first baseman Manny Serrano, but also worked himself out of trouble.

Saunders walked Gino Franco in the next at-bat to load the bases with one out, then struck out the next two Sacred Heart batters to get out of the jam.

“We played two WCAL teams and they got three runs off of us, so we’re pretty proud of our pitching staff,” said Lowell head coach John Donohue. “We’re starting to serve notice that we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Serrano’s single would prove to be enough, but the Irish (6-0) tacked on an insurance run with a RBI single from senior catcher Joe Cibotti in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Sacred Heart had just five hits and stranded seven baserunners, but Morgan was not overly concerned with the lack of offense early in the season.

“It tends to be this way,” Morgan said. “Pitchers are ahead of hitters this time of year, but if we’re hitting the same three weeks from now, it’s a concern.”

Two of Lowell’s (4-2) three hits came from senior center fielder Nick Tam, who also pitched a shutout sixth inning in relief of Saunders. Tam led off the game with a single, but Wallace retired the next eight Lowell batters before Tam singled again in the fourth.

Lowell junior pitcher Elijah Saunders winds up for a pitch against Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday at Westborough Park in South San Francsico. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

“This is the best team I think we’ve played, including Saratoga,” Morgan said. “They can swing the bat. They didn’t hit the ball great today, because we pitched well, played good defense and threw out a runner stealing. That’s the name of the game, especially early in the year.”

Miguel, who also led the Irish in RBIs, home runs and extra-base hits last season, didn’t have a great day at the plate (0-for-1 with two walks, while being pitched around at times), but played stellar defense at third base, including a sparkling play in the top of the seventh inning.

Lowell right fielder Andy Glickfeld hit a ground ball that appeared to be destined for the hole, but Miguel dove to his left to make the stop and just beat Glickfeld to the bag with a low throw, aided by a deft pick by Serrano at first base.

“We made three or four plays that in high school baseball could be easily missed or thrown away,” Morgan said. “That’s the difference in the game. If we gave them an opening, all the sudden it’s a different ballgame.”

The Irish remain undefeated, but have been in a similar situation the past two years, where they entered WCAL play undefeated, only to go 4-10 in the league in both seasons.

“The problem in the league is, if you play bad, you lose by 15 and sometimes you can play good and lose by four,” Morgan said. “In the end it’s still a loss. It’s that way in basketball, soccer, football — you name it. Everybody knows the deal, but these guys have a little confidence and I’m looking forward to league.”

Scoring Summary

Second Inning
SH – Manny Serrano singles, Jack Harrington scores

Fifth Inning
SH – Joe Cibotti singles, Tevin Goodwin scores

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6 Comments

  1. WCAL Alum says:

    Defense has rarely been the issue with SHC (ie pitching and defense keeps them competitive). However, the offense has historically had problems with WCAL pitching. That can be said for all WCAL city schools. A relatively weak schedule to date, but 6-0 is 6-0.

    SI has some good seniors and a solid junior class that can make some noise. They are 3-2 to date, but have played some solid teams.

    Matt Gallegoes’ Riordan team has little depth, but is making most of what he has, they will have tough time once league starts, but he will demand the most from them. But who would have thought 5-1 to date.

    There has not been a WCAL school with a winning record in league since the 2001 SI team who won the round-robin title.

    The last outright title was SHC in 1978, 34 years ago!!!!

    Again it will come down to run production against South Bay pitching.

    • merkinworld says:

      That is good knowledge. Two of the many stars on that team were Matt Gallegos(went to Cal) and Bill Scudder(went to SCU). I have heard that SI has some talent.

  2. Justa Fan says:

    Willie- Great picture of the tag on second!

  3. sammy says:

    It is impressive that Lowell can hold down Riordan and SHC offense, but the Lowell bats will have to come alive if they want to beat AAA teams. They have a good chance to win the championship with their pitching, but it ultimately will come down to how the offense performs. I think that Lowell can win any game if they put 4-5 runs on the board.
    I read somewhere that if you have 2-3 more quality at bats a game, you will score, on average, 0.4 runs more per game. A “quality at bat” is defined as where you see 6+ pitches, or hit the ball hard even if it’s an out, or draw a walk, or get a base hit, or move runners over. So, if every starter on the offense has a quality at bat in a game, they can score more runs, and their pitching/defense is already very solid. I like Lowell’s chances of winning the AAA championship, but you can never count out Washington or Balboa.

  4. Wet-Dogg says:

    my boys joey and manny doin work out there with the RBI’s. yes sir!

  5. DJ Coldcut says:

    Great game by both sides. The catcher for Lowell made some excellent blocks and made an amazing throw down to second to get a speedy baserunner. (I thinks thats the picture above)

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