Big first inning helps Lowell win Transbay Series title

Lowell High School baseball coach John Donohue woke up Thursday morning with a text message indicating that he will be inducted into the California Baseball Coaches' Association Hall of Fame on June 14 at Santa Clara University. That was just the start to a good day for Donohue.

In a season that included his milestone 700th career win and a second consecutive Academic Athletic Association championship, a second straight Transbay Series title was the icing on the cake.

Lowell completed a two-game sweep of Oakland Athletic League champion Oakland Tech by scoring five runs in the first inning en route to a 5-2 victory at San Francisco State University. Lowell blanked Oakland Tech 9-0 on Tuesday in Game 1 of the Transbay Series.

“It's been a great season. Twenty-one wins, a city championship, I can't say enough about the coaches and players,” Donohue said. “Great players make great coaches.”

No player may have been greater than Craig Colen. The junior started at third base before coming into pitch later and sparked Lowell's offense by scorching Bulldogs junior Marcus Miller's 1-1 pitch to center field for a two-run triple, and later scored on a passed ball, giving Lowell a 3-0 lead.

The first-inning onslaught continued when Jack Billings' blooper to center scored Nick Rolph to give Lowell a 4-0 lead. The Cardinals capped the first-inning scoring when they took advantage of another Oakland Tech passed ball, this time scoring Markus Min.

In addition to the two passed balls, Lowell took advantage of a wild pitch and two errors by the Bulldogs in the inning.

“We find a way to score, and we scored early and that was important for our pitchers,” Donohue said. “We did a good job there in that first inning.”

After getting blanked in the first game of the series, Oakland Tech finally was able to score in the top of the third, scoring two runs to cut Lowell's lead to 5-2.

But that was all the runs Lowell gave up as Donohue didn't waste anytime, inserting Colen in relief. Colen relieved starter Max Read in the fourth inning and recorded the final 12 outs. He struck out three and gave up only one hit — an infield single to Cris Castillo — to help Lowell clinch the win.

Colen will be back next season, and while he's on the radar of Division I schools, he's looking forward to sending Donohue, who has said next season will be his last, out with three straight AAA and Transbay Series championships.

“That would be memorable to play at AT&T Park for the third season in a row,” Colen said. “It'd be amazing to send coach Donohue off with another championship, but for now, I'm glad he's coming back for one more season.”

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