For four years, they have watched each other closely, practicing on adjacent diamonds, looking ahead to meetings on the schedule and eyeing one another at the top of the Academic Athletic Association standings.
Now, the seniors on the Lowell and Washington baseball teams will finalize their conference careers in the only way that seems fitting — head-to-head. Wednesday, the rivals went through their final practices at Big Rec before today’s 4 p.m. San Francisco Section final at AT&T Park. Lowell (23-6-1) and Washington (15-15-1) have split the last two titles, with the Cardinals winning 8-3 a year ago.
“Playing them always brings our intensity up,” Washington senior first baseman O’Koyea Dickson said. “We know it’s always they’re always going to be tough and fight hard all game.”
Countered Lowell senior shortstop Max Newman: “It just wouldn’t have seemed right to play anyone else.”
Newman is one of 10 seniors on a Cardinals team that has outscored foes by a combined score of 198-19 throughout a perfect 14-0 AAA season. He leads the team in batting average (.480) and runs (54) while stealing 27 bases in 27 attempts. Today’s starting pitcher, Evan Brydon (also a senior), hit .478 with 46 RBIs and went 8-1 on the mound with a 1.90 ERA. Max Schumm will be available in relief after going 10-1 this year, while Schumm and fellow seniors Mike Lazarus, Louis Buchbinder and Nick Rosenheim will all carry batting averages better than .320 into the game.
“A lot of us have known each other since middle school,” Brydon said. “And when we came to Lowell, we knew we had the potential to be a really talented group.”
Dickson is one of four senior starters for the Eagles and announced his presence as a dominant force in The City when he hit a home run over the AT&T Park fence as a sophomore in Wash’s 16-4 championship game win. The right-handed hitter batted .570 with four homers and 42 RBIs this season. Junior righty Thomas Mora will start the game for the Eagles. He is 7-4 this season and is coming off a complete-game 5-4 win over Lincoln in the semifinal.