With a resurgent Balboa baseball team leading the Academic Athletic Association standings and traditional favorite Lowell showing early signsof vulnerability, Wednesday’s meeting between the two teams could have been an opportunity to showcase a changing of the guard in the league.
However, the highly anticipated showdown never materialized, thanks to an opportunistic Cardinals offense and a strong performance from Lowell starter Evan Byrdon.
The Cardinals scored six runs in the bottom of the second inning with two outs, then tacked four more on in the bottom of the fifth to run-rule the Buccaneers 12-2 in at Big Rec.
Brydon threw five innings of four-hit, two-run ball, while helping himself at the plate, going 3-4 with three RBIs. Derek Figueras added three hits and three RBIs for the Cardinals (12-5, 8-1 AAA), who handed Balboa (9-9-1, 8-1) their first league loss of the season.
Balboa went ahead early 1-0 on a Gen Kurakata RBI double in the top of the second inning, but Lowell quickly responded.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the second, Max Newman roped a triple down the right-field line to score Carter Rockwell and Mike Lazarus. Figueras followed with an RBI single and Elan Lavie, Brydon and Nick Rosenheim came up with successive hits, bringing in four more runs and chasing Balboa start Mairtin Steinkamp after just 1²/³ innings.
Brydon kept the Buccaneers’ bats at bay for most of the game, striking out five while surrendering a single run apiece in the second and fourth inning.
"I just tried to mix up my pitches between my curve, fastball and changeup," Brydon said. "I knew that if I threw strikes my defense would back me up in the field, and they did."
Lowell was able to put the game away in the bottom of the fifth by pounding out five hits, including a double by Brydon that brought in two runs, and a single by Rosenheim that brought in the 12th and deciding run.
The Cardinals will have a short time to savor this victory, as the two teams are set to play today at the same location and time.
"Balboa will be ready to play, coach [John] Tynan will have them back tomorrow and they’ll give us their best shot again," Lowell coach John Donohue said. "We have to keep swinging the bat well and play good defense. We were down a little bit earlier in the season, but we’re getting back on track."
Lowell 12, Balboa 2