SF Preps Baseball: Lowell claims seventh straight AAA championship

Lowell infielder Mark Zhu is congratulated by his teammates after scoring a run in the third inning of the Cardinals’ Academic Athletic Association title game win over Washington on May 15 at Oracle Park in San Francisco. Zhou had two hits and two RBIs in the 5-0 win. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Catcher Shane Stanley (2) dumbs a bucket of ice water on an already-soaked Mark Zhu after an on-camera interview in the home dugout of Oracle Park in San Francisco, after a 5-0 Academic Athletic Association title game win on May 15, 2019. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Teammates surround Lowell’s Mark Zhu (22), who knocked in two runs and scored another in the Cardinals’ 5-0 win over Washington in the Academic Athletic Association championship game on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Lowell head baseball coach Daryl Semien (left) poses with his team after winning the Academic Athletic Association championship over Washington on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Lowell senior Levi Humphrey poses with the Academic Athletic Association trophy after the Cardinals beat Washington 5-0 on May 15, 2019 in the league title game at Oracle Park in San Francisco. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Lowell sophomore Jack Schonherr celebrates the Cardinals’ win in the Academic Athletic Association championship game on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Sophomore Mark Zhu looks out at the scoreboard showing Lowell’s victory in the Academic Athletic Association championship game on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Lowell catcher Shane Stanley (2), shortstop Philippe Astier (30) and infielder Cameron Tang (7) celebrate a win in the Academic Athletic Association championship game on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Lowell head coach Daryl Semien watches his team add on in the third inning of the Academic Athletic Association championship game on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Mark Zhu rounds third to score in the third inning of the Academic Athletic Association championship game on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Mark Zhu doubles in the third inning of the Academic Athletic Association championship game on May 15, 2019 at Oracle Park. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

ORACLE PARK — In the home dugout at Oracle Park, amidst soggy conditions at the Academic Athletic Association baseball title game, Lowell’s coaches and players were representing all sorts of different sweatshirts recognizing their City consecutive championship runs. Some were honoring four titles in a row, some five and some six.

With a talented sophomore class taking the reins on Thursday, they’ll be adding another set of championship sweatshirts and finding a new spot in what’s an extremely crowded trophy case, as the Cardinals beat Washington 5-0 in a rain-shortened game to extend their City title streak to seven years in a row.

While Jack Schonherr allowed just one hit over five innings for an abbreviated complete game, unsung hero Mark Zhu stepped up with a two-run triple and a double, making a name for himself on a field where many of his idols have played.

Standing in the right-handed batter’s box that Buster Posey has hit from thousands of times and playing on the left side of the infield just like Brandon Crawford, Zhu ensured that Lowell (21-6) would have enough run support to continue what’s been an incredible stretch for the Cardinals.

“We’ve got a lot of good sophomores on this team and I was lucky to get into the lineup,” Zhu said.

Only a semi-regular starter who struggled to hit at the beginning of the year, Zhu came into his own as the year progressed and looked like a seasoned veteran on Thursday, cementing his status as part of a Lowell program that’s graduated from being a powerhouse into becoming a full-on dynasty.

“He’s always one of the last guys to leave practice,” head coach Daryl Semien said. “He’s always taking extra swings, and it’s paid off. He’s one of our defensive studs, too.”

Zhu had three plays from third base on the day, charging on a Niko Lanier bunt to end the top of the second and handling a pair of grounders in the top of the fifth, the last of which was picked at first by an elastic Levi Humphrey for what turned out to be the final play of the game. Umpires and coaches held a confab behind home plate, and as Washington players started to make their way onto the field, they ruled the wet field to be unplayable.

“I trusted my defense and they made all of the plays behind me,” said Schonherr, who allowed just one hit, a two-out Christian Wong single in the fourth, while striking out three.

The Eagles (12-16) flashed the leather as well, with a diving catch by Devlin Armas to end the top of the second and a great heads-up play by first baseman Gilbert Diccion in the fourth, backing up to take a longer hop on a throw across the diamond. Still, the Cardinal bats proved to be too much, even with semifinal hero James Monterrosa on the mound.

After Zhu’s triple brought home a pair in the first, back-to-back RBI singles by sophomore catcher Shane Stanley and junior second baseman Cameron Tang made it a 4-0 game in the second. Zhu also started the rally in the third, doubling off Armas, who took over on the mound, and coming home on a Schonherr RBI single to finish the scoring.

From there, it was just a matter of how many innings the teams would fit in before the rains became too much, and even though the game was abruptly called, it was an experience that even the defeated Eagles were thankful for.

“This is exactly what they play for, and this was the carrot that was dangled in front of them,” Washington head coach Brian Jesson said. “Anything less than this would have been a disappointment. I’m happy that they got this experience, especially the seniors.”

Just Posted

More housing approved for Hunters Point despite contamination concerns

San Francisco has approved initial plans for the construction of more homes at the Hunters Point Shipyard, despite pending litigation over health concerns there.

Tax on Uber, Lyft rides heading to voters

New fee intended to reduce traffic congestion, fund transit

Supes suffer sticker shock over cost of BART’s ‘fancy tents’ to cover escalators

Market Street canopy project to total $91.3M, with around half coming from city transportation bond

Proposed ‘IPO tax’ pulled from November ballot

Supervisor Mar plans to pursue revised measure in 2020

Hayes Valley to get more Green space

Sections of Octavia near popular park to close to traffic

Most Read