The signs from the third-base coaching box have become pretty easy to decode when O’Koyea Dickson steps to the plate with a man in scoring position.
“In those situations, the first thing I do is look over and check in with the coach,” Dickson said. “And he always just bumps his hands together and tells me to get it done.”
It’s a justifiably simple approach considering the damage the No. 3 hitter for the Washington baseball team has inflicted on opposing pitching this season.
Despite playing in just 21 games (he missed 10 early in the year with a strained oblique muscle), Dickson has the most RBIs in the state (53) and leads the Eagles in batting average (.600), home runs (three) and slugging percentage (a staggering 1.057). The 5-foot-10, 205-pound junior first baseman helped Washington (20-11) go 13-2 in the Academic Athletic Association and win the B Division to earn a bye into Thursday’s semifinals of the San Francisco Section playoffs, where the Eagles will play either Galileo or International Studies Academy at Big Rec’s Nealon Field at 3:30 p.m.
And with Dickson healthy and last year’s AAA Co-Pitcher of the Year Mike Andrick back after missing the majority of the season due to injuries sustained in a car accident, the defending San Francisco Section and Transbay champion Eagles have won eight games in a row and appear poised to make another deep playoff run.
“We’ve had some bumps and bruises along the way this season,” Dickson said. “But we feel like we’re playing our best ball now at the right time going into the playoffs.”
Dickson truly emerged as a player to watch during last year’s postseason, smashing a long home run to left field that easily cleared the fence at AT&T Park and hitting another one even longer that bounced over the wall in Washington’s 16-4 section championship game win over Lowell. Then, in the decisive third game of the Transbay Series against Oakland Section champion Skyline, he went 4-for-4 with a home run and six RBIs in a 16-12 Eagles win.
This year, Dickson had a 13-RBI game against ISA and drove in 10 against Marshall.
“He’s a great player — a huge presence to have in the lineup — and his success doesn’t surprise me because he’s not afraid to put in the work to get better,” Washington coach Rob Fung said. “Plus, he has great natural abilities and a swing and a lower body built for power.”
Washington pitcher Thomas Mora has a unique perspective on Dickson, having faced him last year while playing for Skyline. His advice for those attempting to get his new and talented teammate out: Whatever you do, don’t leave anything over the plate.
“You have to try to get him to bite at a waste pitch,” Mora said. “Because if you throw him a strike, you know he’s going to hit it hard somewhere. Always.”
Dickson attributes his success in part to his father, Richard — a former minor-leaguer in the Giants’ system who had his son playing catch as soon as he could walk — and the support of his mom, Alice Porter. He is already drawing interest from Division I programs including Santa Clara and dreams of playing professionally. But for now, he is content to concentrate on helping Washington win, one line drive at a time.
“My dad just tells me to think about hitting the ball hard,” said Dickson, who got his unusual first name because his father saw Christian Okoye play in the NFL. “The rest will take care of itself.”
SAN FRANCISCO SECTION PLAYOFFS
» Lincoln vs. Balboa at Crocker-Amazon Field No. 1, 3:30 p.m.
» ISA vs. Galileo at Hennessey, 3:30 p.m.
» Balboa-Lincoln winner vs. Lowell at Big Rec (Graham), 3:30 p.m.
» Galileo-ISA winner vs. Washington at Big Rec (Nealon), 3:30 p.m.
Championship Game of May 16
» Semifinal winners at AT&T Park, TBA