By Jeremy Balan
The Galileo Academy baseball team was having enough trouble just making contact at the plate through five innings against Marshall on Monday, let alone getting any hits.
The Lions still held a two-run lead, but their bats came alive in the sixth inning to put the Phoenix away in a 7-2 Academic Athletic Association win at Moscone Recreation Center.
Galileo’s sixth-inning rally came on five consecutive two-out hits, capped by back-to-back, line-drive RBI singles by senior third baseman Eduardo Martinez and senior second baseman Brian Gee.
Contact was the key, as the rally was started by a bloop single from sophomore Kyle Nelson, followed by back-to-back infield singles from junior catcher Rafael Vergara and junior left fielder Ken Rivera. All three of the baserunners scored.
“Hitting is a weak spot for us and we’re just trying to get them to make contact,” said Galileo head coach Don Papa. “We’re just not all that great hitting at this point.”
What the Lions do have is pitching, led by Nelson, but even he had a relatively off-day against Marshall.
Nelson has the stuff and the pedigree (his brother Dylan was AAA Player of the Year in 2009 and 2010), but struggled with command against Marshall. The left-hander struck out 11 and allowed just one hit in five innings, but also walked nine batters and threw 129 pitches.
Jason Tong, the Lions’ normal No. 2 starter, had no such issues in two innings of relief. The junior right-hander struck out the side in the sixth and retired the final six Marshall batters with an accurate cutter and high-arcing slow curve.
“We have outstanding pitchers, four of them actually,” Papa said. “You saw Kyle at his worst today. He just didn’t have a great game. [Tong] came in and did what he was supposed to do with a lead, stay around the plate and throw strikes.”
Galileo (5-3 in AAA) opened up a 2-0 lead in the first inning with a walked-in run and another scored on a wild pitch, but Marshall (2-5 in AAA) cut the lead in half when Nelson walked in a run in the fourth. The Lions then extended their lead to 4-1 in the bottom half of the fourth with a double steal and Nelson’s RBI single.
Marshall’s only hit came in the fifth inning, on an RBI single from first baseman Maurice Ross.
Marshall has been the top candidate from the AAA’s B Division to knock off an A Division foe the past two seasons, but coach Gerald Rankin still feels the Phoenix could be a year away.
“I don’t think we’re ready yet,” Rankin said. “But with some of the [A Division] teams down this season, we might surprise someone in the playoffs.”
Since the AAA began the tiered-division format in 2007, only one team from the B Division has beaten an A Division team. Mission beat Balboa in 2009, but the lower division has gone 0-86 against the A Division since.
G – Ken Rivera walks, Josh Lu scores
G – Rafael Vergara scores on a wild pitch
M – Andrew Carreon walks, Costa Georgopoulos scores
G – Henry Chen steals home
G – Kyle Nelson singles, Lu scores
M – Maurice Ross singles, Aumen Holliday scores
G – Rivera singles, Nelson scores
G – Eduardo Martinez singles, Vergara scores
G – Brian Gee singles, Rivera scores