For the second consecutive season, the Academic Athletic Association-San Francisco Section baseball championship will come down to bitter rivals Washington and Lowell high schools. The two will play today at AT&T Park for city bragging rights.
In the last 11 years, the two schools have met five times for the title, with Lowell boasting a 4-1 record in those meetings, including last season's 7-0 victory.
Washington is looking to atone for last season's championship defeat and has had Lowell's number so far this season, winning two of the three regular-season games. All three games were decided by one run, so a close title game seems likely.
“First of all, [Washington coach Rob Fung] does a great job with that program,” Lowell coach John Donohue said. “For the players, no matter what the records are, it's always a competitive affair.”
In their most recent game against each other on April 14, Washington (12-14) rallied from a 2-0 deficit when senior Sean Mathews — who threw five shutout innings in Washington's 10-0 win over Galileo in the AAA semifinals last week — hit a walk-off, three-run double to give the Eagles a 3-2 win.
“Lowell is a good team, and they have some very good pitching, and there is no questioning their abilities,” Fung said. “They're a very good team and this is a good matchup.”
Early in the season, though, Washington was scuffling, leaving a tournament in Anaheim with a 4-12 overall record. But Washington has won eight of its past 10 games, which includes two victories over Lowell (18-9).
“Several of our losses have been by one run, so we've been right there,” Fung said. “We turned the corner once we got back from Southern California.”
The Eagles — who will be appearing in their 10th consecutive AAA championship, winning four titles in that stretch — will give the ball to senior Nick Wong, who enters the championship 4-0 with a tidy 1.63 ERA. He'll be going up against Lowell, which has nearly its whole lineup hitting over .300.
Lowell hasn't announced who will start today, but if wouldn't be a shock if it was junior Craig Colen, who was on the mound for both Lowell's narrow losses against Washington.
The 6-foot-2 junior has been electric this season.
He comes into the championship with a 1.37 ERA while striking out 66 batters in 56 innings.
In the Cardinals' 5-1 semifinal win over Balboa, Colen pitched seven innings of one-run ball while striking out nine Buccaneers. He was backed offensively by sophomore infielder Matthew Schivo, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.
“I appreciate the efforts of the players just to get past a very good Balboa team,” Donohue said. “We're playing some very good baseball and it's good to have the San Francisco Giants let us use AT&T Park. It's good to be in this situation.”