There were gloves and red hats in the air before the ball even landed in Derrick Figueras’ mitt.
The Lowell baseball team was sprinting to the mound in the middle of AT&T Park in celebration of an 8-4 San Francisco Section title game win over Washington on Thursday and it was a moment the Cardinals had gone over in their minds since the season began.
It was the second straight championship for Lowell and 11th in coach John Donahue’s 26-year tenure at the school.
"Just thinking about winning and the players before us and the Lowell mystique — it sends chills down your spine," senior shortstop Max Newman said. "We’ve been visualizing that dog pile all year. There’s no better feeling in the world."
The Cardinals (24-6-1) steamrolled their way to a perfect 15-0 record against Academic Athletic Association foes entering the final and had outscored league opponents 198-19.
Thursday, Lowell showed it could grind out a win as well. The Cardinals were actually outhit 8-7, but scored runs on hits, a sacrifice fly, a fielder’s choice and a steal of home to overcome an early 4-2 deficit. Starting pitcher Evan Brydon (9-1) threw four scoreless innings after allowing four runs in the first two, and also went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
"I was a little amped up at first so I just tried to relax and remind myself ‘It’s just a game, it’s what I do,’" Brydon said.
Brydon delivered what turned out to be the game-winning hit in the bottom of the fourth inning. Newman flared a one-out double down the right-field line to drive in two and tie the score 4-4, and after Mike Lazarus was hit by a pitch, Brydon delivered a sharp grounder that skipped over the infield and into right field to plate Newman.
"The most important thing to our kids is to win the city championship," Donahue said. "But we’re not just going to lay down now in the Transbay."
Kevin Shue had three hits for Washington while senior first baseman O’Koyea Dickson was 2-for-2 with two walks. Dickson — who hit a home run over the wall at AT&T as a sophomore when the teams played in the title game two years ago — came to the plate with two out, two on and his team down 6-4 in the top of the sixth in the best late-game chance for the Eagles (15-16-1). But Donahue elected to intentionally walk Dickson and Brydon retired Thomas Mora on a foul fly behind third base to end the threat.
"I wish I would have had more of an opportunity there, but what can you say?" Dickson said. "It was a tough season at first, but the latter part of the year we got rolling and had a lot of fun."
Washington 130 000 0 — 4 8 1
Lowell 200 402 x — 8 7 2
Leading hitters: Kevin Shue (W) 3x4, O’Koyea Dickson (W) 2x2, Brydon (L) 3x4. HR—None.
Transbay series (Best-of-three series) Saturday’s game
» Lowell (24-6-1) vs. Skyline (18-5) at McAfee Coliseum, 1 p.m.
» Skyline vs. Lowell at USF, 4 p.m.
» Lowell at Skyline, 3:30 p.m. (if necessary)
S.F. Section baseball champions
1967: St. Ignatius
1966: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1965: St. Ignatius
1963: St. Ignatius
1962: St. Ignatius
1961: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1960: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1959: St. Ignatius
1958: St. Ignatius
1955: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1954: St. Ignatius
1953: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1952: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1951: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1950: Sacred Heart Cathedral
1946: Galileo, Sacred Heart Cathedral