The last time they were at West Sunset, some of the players on the Lowell baseball team slipped on Groucho Marx glasses to appear incognito as they scouted Lincoln.
And after watching the Mustangs play Balboa last week, the Cardinals returned to the field Wednesday — this time in uniform — and were obviously ready to get down to business.
Starting pitcher Evan Brydon allowed just two runs in a complete-game effort as the Cardinals beat the Mustangs 7-2 to clinch the A Division title. Lowell (21-9, 12-1 Academic Athletic Association) has now earned a bye in the first round of the playoffs and will face either Lincoln (9-4) or Balboa in the semifinals next Thursday.
"After watching last week, I thought if I made my pitches, I’d hopefully be able to hold them down," Brydon said. "This is always a big game for us, so we knew we had to come out and play our best."
Brydon was certainly at the top of his game, striking out seven, walking two and throwing just 86 pitches (58 for strikes) in the win. And while Brydon was cruising on the mound, the Cardinals were using a disciplined approach at the plate to take control.
On Tuesday in practice, Lowell worked on taking the ball to the opposite field, and against Lincoln, seven of the team’s 13 hits went that way — including Joe Bien-Kahn’s solo homer and two-run triple and all four of Louis Buchbinder’s singles.
"We worked hard on that [Tuesday]," Buchbinder said. "And today, we stayed patient and went with the pitch."
Lowell took the lead in the top of the first on an opposite-field hit, as leadoff hitter Max Newman lined the first pitch he saw for a single and scored on Nick Rosenheim’s two-out bouncer through the right side. Carter Rockwell expanded the lead in the second with a two-run double and Lowell took a commanding 6-0 advantage in the fourth on a run-scoring single by Elan Lavie and Bien-Kahn’s booming triple.
And after Lincoln responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth, Bien-Kahn came right back with a high fly that cleared the right-field wall in the sixth.
Lowell 7, Lincoln 2