With the Lowell baseball team one strike away from earning a berth into the San Francisco Section title game, Cardinals catcher Max Schumm and pitcher Evan Brydon met briefly at the mound and decided to try one high fastball before going with off-speed pitches to get the final out.
It turned out only the first step of the plan was necessary.
Brydon reared back and threw his 95th pitch of the game past the dangerous Eric Lara, stranding the tying run on first base, leaving Academic Athletic Association Player of the Year candidate Nik Fangonilo in the on-deck circle and closing the books on Lowell’s 4-3 win over Balboa on Wednesday at Big Rec-Graham.
The Cardinals (22-9) will now play Washington next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. at AT&T Park for the section crown.
“In San Francisco and the AAA, the reason our players sign up to play baseball is for a chance to play in AT&T Park,” Lowell coach John Donahue said. “To be on that field, in the Giants’ dugout, is something that’s pretty exciting for a bunch of 16- and 17-year-olds.”
Brydon may well get the ball again next week for Lowell and he certainly earned the opportunity with a clutch performance Wednesday. After allowing three runs on five hits through two-plus innings, the junior left-hander set down 15 of the final 16 batters he faced. He also had two hits at the plate, including a sharp double with two outs in the bottom of the fourth to drive in what turned out to be the game-winning run.
“I started to rely on my off-speed pitches and realized there was no holding back at this point,” Brydon said. “I’ve been looking forward to getting back to AT&T for a year.”
Lowell 4, Balboa 3