For the first time in forever, Gaston Guibert’s mind went blank.
All he knows is that as soon as he saw Evan Brydon’s final pitch hit Max Schumm’s glove for a game-ending strikeout, he started sprinting. And then he was in the middle of a dog pile at AT&T Park rejoicing over Lowell’s 8-3 win over Washington for the San Francisco Section baseball championship.
“I wasn’t thinking of anything and that was the best part about it,” Guibert said. “I’m always worrying about something and that was just euphoria. It had been a dream for four years and then it came true.”
Guibert’s commanding pitching performance helped the Cardinals (23-9) erase the nightmare of a 16-4 loss to the Eagles in last year’s final as the left-hander held a Washington offense that had piled up 404 runs in 33 games to just three runs (two earned) in five innings.
His composure proved to be perhaps just as important as his stuff in the fourth inning, when Washington capitalized on back-to-back errors by first baseman Elan Lavie to tie the game 1-1. Rather than unraveling emotionally, Guibert pitched out of the jam and gave Lavie a bear hug by the third-base line before entering the dugout.
“I actually just wrote an article in The Lowell [the school newspaper] about Elan being my best friend and how much he’s helped me,” Guibert said. “I could tell he was kind of fretting about it and I just told him I loved him and those errors didn’t matter.”
Lavie didn’t wait long to erase the memory of the miscues, ripping a bases-loaded double in the bottom of the fourth to give the Cardinals a commanding 6-1 lead. His hit came on the heels of a huge blast by another Lowell player looking for redemption asCarter Rockwell (who made the final out in last year’s game) ripped a long two-run single to left to put the Cardinals back up 3-1 during a seven-run outburst.
“We were embarrassed on this field last year and that’s definitely something we talked about,” Lavie said. “It was the best feeling ever to come back from possibly being the goat to being one of the heroes of the game.”
Lowell has now won 13 section titles (including 10 in coach John Donahue’s 25-year tenure) and will advance to play Oakland Section champion Skyline in the best-of-three Transbay Series starting Monday at 3:30 p.m. at McAfee Coliseum.
Donahue spoke reverentially about his team after the game and mentioned how the majority of them showed up for the funeral after his mom, Eileen, passed away in December.
“That was totally uncalled for,” Donahue said. “They’re great kids — the sixth man at a lot of the events that they’re not playing in — and this was well-deserved after all the effort they put in.”
Washington (22-12) was led by two hits apiece from Mike Andrick and O’Koyea Dickson. Andrick came on in relief to pitch a dominating 1-2-3 seventh inning. Andrick, last year’s Academic Athletic Association Co-Pitcher of the Year is still regaining his stamina after suffering a back injury and missing the majority of the season and Eagles coach Rob Fung said he was unwilling to press him into extended action and risk reinjuring the right-hander.
Lowell 8, Washington 3