Baseball: Washington’s eight-run fifth inning too much for Lowell to overcome

Washington senior Dane Vande Guchte watches a ball he hit fly into deep left-center field. Vande Guchte ended up with a three-RBI triple in an eight-run Washington fifth inning on Wednesday at Big Rec. (Photo by Clarivel Fong)

By Jeremy Balan

Until further notice, Washington High School is still the team to beat in Academic Athletic Association baseball.

In a showdown of undefeated teams, the defending AAA champs headed into the top of the fifth inning trailing Lowell 4-3, but scored eight runs in the fifth en route to a 11-5 win on Wednesday at Big Rec, sealing the top seed in the league playoffs.

The Eagles sent 12 batters to the plate, collected six hits and worked three walks in the crucial fifth.

Lowell junior starting pitcher Elijah Saunders struggled on the mound, but hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead on Wednesday at Big Rec. (Photo by Clarivel Fong)

“Up and down the lineup, it’s a nice group,” Washington head coach Rob Fung said of the Eagles’ offense, which has averaged nearly 11 runs per game this season and just under 18 in AAA play. “We didn’t have it going early [in the season] and that’s a good thing. We’re just hitting our stride.”

Washington junior second baseman Christopher Yee began the scoring in the fifth inning with a two-RBI single and senior Dane Vande Guchte punctuated the rally with a bases-clearing, three-RBI triple into left-center field. Vande Guchte also doubled in the first inning and scored the first run of the game.

“It was a pretty good pitch and he thew me a first-pitch curveball that surprised me,” Vande Guchte said of his at-bat in the fifth inning. “I had a feeling he was going to throw me a down-and-away fastball and I just jumped on it.”

Vande Guchte also picked up the win as Washington’s starting pitcher, throwing four innings, striking out two and allowing six hits. The senior worked his way in and out of trouble, most notably a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the second inning.

“He’s our best hitter. He’s our best player,” Fung said. “When you have Vande Guchte and you have [Chris] Hau coming out of the bullpen, it makes my job easy. They’re special kids.”

Both teams came into the game tied for first place in the A Division at 12-0, but Washington clinched top seed in the AAA playoffs with the win due to a drawing earlier in the week that determined if the teams split their two-game series, the Eagles (19-8, 13-0) would take first place. That renders the second meeting between the two teams on Thursday essentially meaningless and if the game is rained out, it will not be rescheduled.

With that knowledge, Fung inserted Hau, his No. 2 starter, to replace Vande Guchte after he surrendered the fifth Lowell run of the game on a RBI single by Max Barnes in the bottom of the fifth inning.

If Hau would have surrendered the lead, he likely would not have been able to start on Thursday.

“We rolled the dice,” Fung said.

Washington senior first baseman Avery Velasco (right) slides into Lowell catcher Jake Simons on a force play at home in the fifth inning on Wednesday at Big Rec. (Photo by Clarivel Fong)

Vande Guchte did his fair share of damage to Lowell starting pitcher Elijah Saunders, but Saunders looked like the early hero with a solo inside-the-park home run to right-center field that gave the Cardinals (23-6, 12-1) a 4-3 lead in the third inning.

Lowell also got two-hit performances from juniors Andy Glickfeld and Aaron Leong, but the 12 Washington hits, four walks allowed and four Lowell fielding errors were too much to overcome.

“We’ve come back on teams before, so it was no surprise we got back on top 4-3, but 11 is a lot of runs,” said Lowell head coach John Donohue. “It reminded me that we still have work to do.”

Despite the loss, the Cardinals will still be the overwhelming favorite to meet the Eagles in the AAA championship game scheduled for May 5 at AT&T Park.

“The worst we can finish is second place and every team we’re playing [until the championship game], we’ve beaten, so from that standpoint, our kids bring a lot of confidence,” Donohue said. “We’ve kept things together all season, so there is no reason, because of the result today, to get down on ourselves.”

Scoring Summary

First Inning
W – Dane Vande Guchte scores on a wild pitch
W – Christopher Yee singles, Jordan Wilson scores
W – Gio Soloranzo hits a sacrifice fly, Yee scores
L – Aaron Leong singles, Andy Glickfeld scores
L – Max Lewin reaches on an error, Max Barnes scores

Third Inning
L – Max Barnes grounds out, Jake Simons scores
L – Elijah Saunders homers

Fifth Inning
W – Yee singles, Javon Phillips and Wilson score
W – Avery Velasco singles, Yee scores
W – Sean Matthews singles, Christopher Hau scores
W – Vande Guchte triples, Soloranzo, Matthews and Zach Dair score
W – Phillips hits a sacrifice fly, Vande Guchte scores
L – Barnes singles, Simons scores

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  1. Eagles 99 says:

    Good game of the day! In glad the Lowell chirping was quieted, I’ve never heard anything more embarrassing or annoying.

    • Ric Bussey says:

      I totally agree with you about Lowell’s bush league chirping. Its bush league. I emailed Commissioner Don Collins regarding this last week and he said its nothing he’s gonna do about it because they are allowed to cheer on there teammates. This is not designed to cheer on but to annoy the opposing pitcher. It really unsportmanlike conduct and there is no need for it.

      I’m a Balboa Buc but I’ll be rooting for Wash to slam Lowell.

      • JJ says:

        If the head coach complains to the ump, sometimes the other team tones it down. I’ve seen it happen in little league…not sure if the same is true in high school, but worth trying.

      • jbalan says:

        I’ve never understood what the big deal is about this. You guys should go out to a softball game. It’s both teams yelling constantly throughout the whole game.

      • Sammy says:

        It’s not bush league, it’s simply them rooting for their teammates. If you have a problem with it, then maybe you shouldn’t go to the game at all. Just stay home.

        • JJ says:

          I don’t really think it’s rooting for your teammates; I think it’s mostly used to try and distract the pitcher. To me, it doesn’t bother me, but I guess if you have OCD or can’t concentrate with noise, it can get annoying. It’s like In basketball when the home team makes loud noise and chatter when the opposing team is shooting free throws. Sometimes, it bothers you, sometimes not. In baseball, it’s disrespectful to do alot of things, such as admire your home run from home plate or run over the catcher ala Scott Cousins and Pete Rose, but alot of players still do it.

        • Ric Bussey says:

          Yeah Sammy, I’m old school and a traditionalist. There is no room for it. You don’t see it in the major leagues. You don’t see it in college. We didn’t do it in my day. Its funny how it stops when they’re getting beat badly!

  2. Christopher Lee says:

    Wash is hella litttt, WE OUT HERE!

  3. Sammy says:

    I suppose you’re right, it can be like an “unwritten rule” of baseball to be quiet during games or not too annoying. But Lowell has been doing it for years. I guess if you’re an opposing pitcher, you have to learn to deal with it. A mentally focused pitcher should be able to concentrate on the game despite the chirping. Baseball is all about focus. I feel like I’m off-topic now, but the point is that it has never bothered me when the other team does it, but a player should not use it as an excuse for poor play.

    • Ric Bussey says:

      Thinking back on when I pitched, you’re right. It would not of hurt my focus, but as a fan in the stands, it does bother me. Its okay to encourage, but the constant churping is irritating. Its the constant noise!!!!

  4. Sammy says:

    Yeah I guess it would be especially annoying for a fan in the stands. I know some players have gotten annoyed, but sometimes I feel like they’re getting annoyed because they perform poorly. It can become a cycle. I really have nothing to say on the matter except that I can say it is annoying, but they’re going to continue it nonetheless.

  5. #softballproblems says:

    Getting hit by a softball definitely hurts…how bout you try taking a pitch before you make assumptions

    • Ric Bussey says:

      Well problems, I’ve played alot of baseball & alot of softball. I think I know the difference. I guess your’re talking about fast pitch softball. Even with that, getting hit with a fast pitch softball isn’t the same as getting hit with a baseball. I’d be glad to give you a chance at making an example.

      I’ll bat, and you hit me with a fast pitch softball. Then, you can bat, and I’ll tag you in the ribs or legs with a baseball. I’m sure, you’ll have your conclusion by then. Anytime!!!!!!

      • #brettpill says:

        try taking aroldis chapman 98 mph fastball to the ribs. All in all, wash had a major advantage in this one as they were able to utilize all their pitching as they only needed to win one game while lowell had to save some of their pitching to try and win two. The commisioner should have done the drawing after the games had there been a tie.

      • JJ says:

        Force = mass x acceleration, so a Jennie Finch fastball probably hurts more than a Ric Bussey 65mph fastball.

        • Ric Bussey says:

          Okay JJ, you saying I throw like a girl? Good one! I got a $100 at 54 that I can strike you out. I’m sure I can’t get up to 90 mph now like I did (key is I did) back in the day but I’m sure I can get you.

          • JJ says:

            The only way you can strike me out is if you hired the home plate ump who umped the Philip Humber perfect game recently. #rigged

  6. BBM says:

    Lowell won the second game against Washington 7:3. It would have been a lot nicer/fairer to do the coin toss AFTER both games were played. The way they did it, Washington already knew before the first game that they only had to win one game (and could use their players and pitchers accordingly etc), while Lowell went in knowing that they were going to have to win both in order to get top seed.

    • JJ says:

      I think the coin toss before the games are played is better, because why would you subject your best players to injury just to win the 2nd game? At least the team that wins the coin toss as well as the loser, knows what needs to be done to get the #1 seed. Washington won the 1st game, and that gave them the right to relax in the 2nd game.

      • jbalan says:

        I actually agree with having the coin toss after the games, because it impacted the way the games were played. It gave Washington a distinct strategic advantage once it got a lead in that first game. Wash used its No. 2 starter, which it surely would not have done if the coin toss was after the games.

        I don’t think an administrator/commissioner or governing body would like that to happen at any level.

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