Baseball: Balboa takes out Lowell again in AAA semifinals behind Arnold’s shutout

The Balboa baseball team celebrates on the field after its semifinal win over Lowell on Thursday at Big Rec. (Photo by Clarivel Fong)

By Jeremy Balan

On a scorecard, Balboa High School senior Alex Arnold’s groundout to second base in the second inning of the Academic Athletic Association baseball semifinals looks routine, but it’s the kind of groundout that makes coaches gush.

It was also the difference in Balboa’s 1-0 upset win over Lowell on Thursday at Big Rec.

After a leadoff double by junior Jeremy Wong, one of only two Balboa hits in the game, Arnold hit a textbook ground ball to Lowell second baseman Nick Magyari, allowing Wong to get to third with one out.

The next batter, Branden Oropeza, hit a sacrifice fly to center field on a 3-2 pitch from Lowell starter Aaron Leong and Wong just beat the relay throw to the plate.

“We’ve been working on situational hitting a lot, because we knew this game would be a battle,” Arnold said. “Even if we make outs, we want them to be productive. That’s what we did and that’s why we got the win today.”

Balboa senior Alex Arnold send a pitch toward the plate against Lowell on Thursday at Big Rec. (Photo by Clarivel Fong)

Arnold, also the starting pitcher for Balboa (16-8), didn’t know it then, but that run was all the Buccaneers would need to knock the Cardinals (23-6) out of the playoffs in the semifinal round for the fourth consecutive year.

The right-hander often fell behind Lowell batters, but only allowed four hits, three walks and struck out two in a complete-game shutout. Arnold stranded seven Lowell baserunners and the Bucs played flawless defense behind him.

“I was just throwing consistent fastballs down low,” Arnold said. “They were hitting it hard, but they were hitting it into the ground. My defense was really behind me today.”

Arnold got out of three separate jams with multiple runners on base and the final came in the sixth inning, when a one-out infield single from Lowell’s Jake Simons was followed by a a four-pitch walk from Andy Glickfeld.

Balboa coach Tom Pontino made an extended visit to the mound and Arnold responded, forcing two consecutive popouts on just two pitches to end the threat.

“He just said keep throwing strikes and give the defense a chance,” Arnold said of Pontino’s visit. “Luckily, they popped the ball up. Two pitches, two popups.”

As well as Arnold pitched, Leong may have actually had a better game, despite the lone run.

The junior right-hander allowed just four baserunnners, only allowed one runner past second base (the runner that scored) and also pitched a complete game on just 74 pitches.

“Aaron did a really good job on the mound today,” said Lowell head coach John Donohue. “He got out of trouble, picked a guy off, etc. It’s probably our offense’s fault that we didn’t deliver.”

The same Lowell lineup that averaged over 10 runs per game in thee AAA regular season was shut out for the first time in league play. The Cardinals hit several balls hard, but nearly all were mopped up by the Balboa defense.

“If we don’t put the ball in play sometimes we have a tough time scoring runs, but that wasn’t it today,” Donohue said.

The Bucs were swept by Lowell in two regular-season games, but the single-elimination win punches their ticket to the AAA championship game on Saturday at AT&T Park, where they will face Washington for the second consecutive year. The Eagles won last season’s championship game 4-1.

“Last year we were overwhelmed, being there the first time,” Pontino said. “Now I’m taking a group of kids who have been there, so hopefully things will be different.”

Washington 19, Marshall 0

Marshall’s feel-good Cinderella story got a dose of reality on Thursday at Big Rec.

The defending AAA champs scored 10 runs in the second inning, five in the third and four in the fourth to end the semifinal matchup via mercy rule.

Washington senior pitcher Dane Vande Guchte started and threw three scoreless innings and fellow senior Avery Velasco came on to throw two scoreless innings in relief.

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  1. JJ says:

    ARHS Stats, Jr tabulating the final stats on his Ipad, while his team is celebrating a semifinal win in the 1st picture.

  2. Kezar for Keeps says:

    Did anyone else notice, after all the whining and complaining about Lowell making noise during games, Bal did the same exact thing? Is that bush league Ric Bussey, or is it OK because it’s your team?

    • om says:

      they get to get away with it as long as lowell has, so, they have another 15-20 years before they need to stop.

      • Basedddddddd says:

        The Balboa chanting was much different from the annoying Lowell chanting. Lowell is ridiculous and im gald they lost

        • jbalan says:

          I hate to step into this argument, but the chanting was exactly the same yesterday. Balboa may not have been as loud, because they have fewer players, but they were doing the same thing.

    • Ric Bussey says:

      Yeah, its still bush league but I told some Bal players to chant just like Lowell. Now, you can whine and root for us on Saturday. Go Bucs!!!!

      • Kezar for Keeps says:

        I’m not even a Lowell fan. Actually far from it. But I do like to point out hypocrisy when I see it and it’s even more embarrassing that you instructed them to do it. So much for your high and mighty claims from before. You’re actually worse, because your actions were vindictive and childish, which makes sense considering your previous comments about hitting people with pitches. Remember, you are supposed to be the adult here.

        • om says:

          “I do like to point out hypocrisy when I see it ”

          I picked up on that. Another member of the permanently disappointed.

        • Ric Bussey says:

          Hey Kezar & Om, I said in my day I would of hit someone. Obviously in todays sensitive culture, hitting someone would get you tossed out. If the umpires are gonna allow the chanting, yeah, an eye for an eye! As for your claims of hypocraisy, I could care less about what you think. I’m 100% Buc and would do anything to see them get a fair shake. I stand by my record! I was on 6 teams (football & baseball) during my days at Bal. I appeared in 5 championship games and won 3 and loss 2 my senior year by 1 point each. I went to the Univ. of Washington (football schlolarship) and root for them in the same manor. I think I know a thing or two about competing. I’m all about doing whatever its takes to win! If I see the other team getting away with something that gives them an advantage, I’m definately gonna let my kids know. Now, lets drop this and move on! Unfortunately old school thoughts don’t permeate in todays culture! Thats why I don’t coach, I might yell at a player and some parent would say I’m bullying the kids! Now, shut up and come out with the Lowell parents and root for Bal Saturday! Oh excuse me, Shut Up is too harsh, I meant “Be Quiet! LOL!

          • Ric Bussey says:

            I do want to say one thing. This is a great website! Thank you SF Whenever you need a donation or support, let me know!!!!!!!

          • Kezar for Keeps says:

            Ah, I knew you would come with this old school glory days nonsense. Your eye for an eye explanation is childish. I’m glad you don’t coach. Our kids deserve better.

          • om says:

            I am sorry that it wasn’t clear that I *disagreed* with with Kezar, perhaps my humor was just too dry.

            What I meant was there are some people who are just permanently disappointed in others, and you can’t do anything about it, so I really wouldn’t sweat what kezar says.

          • Thomas J. says:

            Im all for old school baseball and I also think the world has gotten a bit too soft. But why does the cheering of Lowell bother you but that of Balboa’s doesn’t? If your down to do whatever it takes to win, which is the mindset of most competitive atheletes, you should be ok with the teams cheering. It may give them energy that allows them to play better or at least think they’ll play better. It may even get to the opposing pitchers head and cause him to make a few more mistakes thus increasing ones chances to win. Your points seem to come out of your backside and hypocrisy is pretty immature.
            Otherwise, great game from both teams. VERY clean defenses and only a few walks. Props to the coaches for teaching great fundamentals. Lowell probably hit the ball better in this one but the Bal coach managed to position his players pretty well turning a few shots into long flyouts.

            • WCAL Alum says:

              Baseball chatter is as old as the game itself. Sitting on the bench or on the field chatter keeps kids in the game. It should be part of game.

              The point is the type of chatter that is displayed by Lowell is somewhat annoying. It’s hardly comprehensible. It really sound like birds at SF Zoo before feeding time.

              Dont get me wrong, a quality program with an extremely respectible coaching staff. Maybe someone from old school can teach em was is proper.

  3. Don L. says:

    Haven’t commented much since the end of basketball….but was curious what people think of the mercy rule?

    I understand the rule in theory and you want to avoid 30-0 scores or something. But sometimes, isn’t good for teams to just play through the entire game? Can anyone with knowledge of HS baseball (and softball) explain this a bit for me?

    Football doesn’t have a mercy rule as far as I know. Basketball does have one but it’s only if you have a 40 point lead by the 4th quarter and the clock runs regardless of whistles, but the game gets played.

    • ARHS Stats says:

      There is a mercy rule for Football, also

    • ARHS Stats says:

      Football Mercy Rule

      During the 1st three quarters, by mutual agreement of the opposing coaches and the referee, a “running clock” may be used if the point differential between the two teams reaches 35 or more;
      If at the start of the 4TH QUARTER or at any time during the 4TH QUARTER, the point differential is 35 or more points, a running clock shall be used for the remainder of the contest;
      Once the “running clock” is in effect during the 4th quarter, it shall remain in effect for the balance of the contest, even if the team that is behind subsequently scores to make the deficit less than 35 points

      NOTE: this is not the entire rule

    • WCAL Alum says:

      I may be corrected but my understanding is NFHS allows for mercy rules and it up to the respective leagues. THe basketball one is 40 pts in 4th quarter (running clock). Football too has one and I believe its 40 pts in fourth quarter. H.S. baseball is 10 runs after 5 innings and the AAA enforces that one, while WCAL does not. Those 20/30 run games in AAA are not going any longer than 5 innings. Personally after 15 runs, I would have my kids practice bunting or at least go base to base.

      • ARHS Stats says:

        Basketball and Football Mercy Rules are for the entire state. When the margin of the lead gets to the designated points in the the fourth quarter, the Mercy rule is invoked and is started by the time keeper.

        During Basketball Games, the referees will talk to the Time Keeper before the 4th quarter starts.

        During Football Games, the referee will talk to the Time Keeper before the game starts and explain how the Mercy Rule works.

        At Riordan home football games the Time Keeper has a copy of the Mercy Rule in the Press Box with him. So he can see when to stop the clock and start it when the Mercy Rule is invoked.

    • jbalan says:

      I once covered a football game in Southern California that was ended at halftime because the score was out of hand. I don’t remember the exact situation, because it was a long time ago.

  4. Mitchell Oster says:

    Football has an informal mercy rule. If it’s getting out of hand, the leading team will usually offer to the official and other coach to run the clock during the second half. Game ends quickly.

  5. Coach says:

    Great job Alex….So proud of you

  6. Anthony Auerbach says:

    Great win Balboa.

  7. Susy Scarpone says:

    How impressive, Alex!!!

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