Baseball: Marshall stuns Galileo to claim first playoff win in school history

The Marshall baseball team lifts up starting pitcher Aumen Holliday in celebration after its playoff win over Galileo on Tuesday at Moscone Recreation Center. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

Marshall High School head baseball coach Gerald Rankin has said it for years.

All he wants for his players is the respect of the rest of the Academic Athletic Association, but the Phoenix had to earn it.

With a 3-2 win over Galileo on Tuesday at Moscone Recreation Center, Marshall became the first team from the B Division to defeat an A Division squad in postseason play since the AAA employed a tiered-division format in 2008.

The win is also Marshall’s first postseason baseball victory in school history.

“We’re on our way,” said Rankin, a graduate of now-defunct Wilson High School in 1970. “I [came to] this program about six years ago and it was in the dumps. I want the AAA to be dominant like when I was in high school, but I also want our side of town to say, ‘Hey, we can still play baseball over here.’”

Marshall junior starting pitcher Aumen Holliday sets to send a pitch toward the plate against Galileo on Tuesday at Moscone Recreation Center. (Photo by Doug Ko)

The divisions are split based on school population, with most of the B Division teams residing in the southeast section of The City, and the statistics have been discouraging, to say the least.

Twenty-run, mercy-rule margins are not uncommon when the two divisions face off and it reached a new low when Washington beat B Division squad Wallenberg 46-0 in just three innings this season. In inter-division games, the B Division had lost a staggering 116 straight games and held an overall record of 1-157.

But that all changed on Tuesday, and it was no wonder why the Phoenix mobbed starting pitcher Aumen Holliday and collectively lifted him up into the air after he struck out the final Galileo batter to end the game.

After struggling with command early and allowing two unearned runs in the first inning, Holliday was dominant. Both of his two hits allowed were on bunts and the standout junior right-hander struck out 12 Galileo batters and walked two in the complete-game victory.

“I don’t have words for it,” Holliday said. “My team did everything they could to back me up. I’m just so happy right now.”

While Holliday was holding off the Lions (12-12) on the mound, the Marshall offense was putting as much pressure as it could on the Galileo defense, especially on the base paths.

The Phoenix (12-10) scored their first run of the game on a squeeze-play bunt from senior Gio Carballo in the second inning and three batters later, No. 9 hitter Andrew Carreon tied the game up with a seeing-eye RBI single up the middle to score junior Drakari Donaldson.

But Donaldson wasn’t done.

After Galileo starting pitcher Jason Tong struck out the first two Marshall batters in the top of the sixth inning, Donaldson hit a lined double into the right-field gap.

Marshall junior Drakari Donaldson breaks toward the plate to score the game-winning run against Galileo on Tuesday at Moscone Recreation Center. (Photo by Doug Ko)

On the next pitch, Donaldson broke for third late and with sheer speed got to the base just as Galileo catcher Rafael Vergara’s throw got to the bag. Galileo senior third baseman Eduardo Martinez got his glove on the ball, but as he went down to apply the tag, the ball bounced away and Donaldson scampered home to score the game-winning run.

“I did call [the steal],” Rankin said. “I called it because there’s no more tomorrow. If we go down, we go down fighting, not standing still. After the game I said to myself, “I probably shouldn’t have done that,” but it won the game.”

Martinez’s error wasn’t due to a lack of effort, but that didn’t take away the sting of the loss after the game.

“He’s been with me for four years and sometimes baseball can be cruel,” Galileo head coach Don Papa said of Martinez. “I’m not upset with him and I’m not disappointed. I’m happy for Marshall and [coach] Rankin. It’s a big day for them.”

Up next for the Phoenix is top-seeded Washington in the AAA semifinals on Thursday. Washington won the only regular-season meeting between the two teams 11-1 in five innings.

“It’s going to be tough and Washington can hit the ball, but we’re not going to run from it,” Rankin said. “They didn’t blow us out last time. We beat ourselves. We’re not the same team we were a month and a half ago.”

Scoring Summary

First Inning
G – Ken Rivera reaches on an error, Chris Chan and Josh Lu score

Second Inning
M – Gio Carballo sacrifice bunt, Costa Georgopoulos
M – Andrew Carreon singles, Drakari Donaldson scores

Sixth Inning
M – Donaldson scores on an error

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11 Comments

  1. pf says:

    congrats marshall, its going to be tougher now aganist a better opponent.

  2. JJ says:

    I think this win should be the top 10 most memorable moments of the last year, but slightly below the game when SI beat SHC in girls basketball when Stacey Ward was “lights out”. Nice picture of Mr. holliday getting carried off the field like RUDY.

  3. Costa G says:

    So proud of the boys they played smart and there starting to gel as a team. Go Marshall……

  4. CS says:

    The difference: Kyle Nelson wasn’t the starting pitcher.

  5. WCAL Alum says:

    I commend coach Gerald Rankin and his Marshall Phoenix for making baseball relevant in the Southeastern section of the City. He is a great role model and teacher. Too many kids dont appreciate the legacy of baseball and he provides a nice connection to the strength of what was once a very competitive league in the region.

    I hope he is able to expose more kids to baseball they way it should be played.

  6. Ari Gold says:

    I approve of Holliday’s “Rick Wild Thing Vaughn 80s” look with the nerdy glasses… Dont see too much of that anymore with Lasik and contacts now.

  7. PDS says:

    Don’t matter Marshall is in the house, watch out Washington you wont what just hit you.

  8. marshall baseball alum says:

    i knew rankin had it in him. he knows the tricks to beat a division A team. Played for him for 2 great years and one thing that separates him, is that he has heart. he cares about his kids.

  9. pf says:

    why would galileo even play a non-league game before a playoff game.

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