Thomas Mora allowed himself a split second to celebrate before survival mode set in.
The Washington pitcher had just struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh inning to nail down a 5-4 win over Lincoln in a San Francisco Section semifinal at West Sunset Field Thursday. And as his teammates descended on the mound for a dogpile, the junior right-hander entered the fray with a dose of caution. After all, the Eagles earned the right to another game on The City’s biggest stage.
Washington (15-15-1) will face Lowell Thursday at AT&T Park forthe section title in the rematch of the last two championship games. The teams have split the two meetings, with the Cardinals winning 8-3 last year.
“I knew they were coming,” Mora said. “And I wanted to enjoy it and stay healthy at the same time. We have more baseball to play.”
Mora allowed five hits and struck out five in a 103-pitch complete-game win. He also went 4-for-4 at the plate, including a huge hit in the top of the seventh inning. Washington entered its final at-bat trailing 4-3, but quickly tied the score after O’Koyea Dickson (2-for-4) led off with an opposite field triple and Mora drilled a 2-0 fastball to center field for a game-tying single. Then, with two outs, sophomore Jumaane Bowdry doubled to center to drive in what turned out to be the winning run.
“Our big man O’Koyea told us we couldn’t fail,” Bowdry said. “We work on those situations all the time in practice. There was a little more pressure this time, but I tried to stay calm and come through.”
In the past two years, Washington seemed preordained to a spot in the final, rolling to a 28-2 regular-season record against Academic Athletic Association foes and crushing teams with its offense. This year was different. The Eagles endured a five-game losing streak midway through the season — including two to Lincoln — and went just 10-4 in conference play. So Eagles coach Rob Fung said watching his team celebrate was “emotional” considering the circumstances.
“It really was, because we really struggled a lot along the way this year,” Fung said. “It was very satisfying for it to happen to this group because I don’t think we were the favorites.”
Lincoln (12-18-1) reached the semifinal despite a roster filled with 10 underclassmen. Thursday’s starting pitcher Sean Rogers was one of the senior leaders, and he pitched admirably despite a sometimes shaky defense behind him. He permitted just two earned runs and struck out six while throwing 125 pitches and finished 2-for-4 at the plate. His opposite field triple to deep right in the fifth inning tied the game at 3-3, and he later scored on a sacrifice fly.
“One inning away,” Lincoln coach Brandon Wolfe said. “Expectations were kind of low coming into the season, but we had a great run. Just one inning away.”
Lowell 14, Galileo 7
Narin Leininger’s two-run double in the bottom of the fifth was the big blow as the Cardinals
(23-6-1) survived a challenge from the Lions (16-9) at Big Rec to advance to the San Francisco Section final.
Evan Brydon pitched five innings to earn the win for defending-champion Lowell while also chipping in two hits and three RBIs at the plate. Max Schumm (3-for-4) came on in relief for the final two innings and got the save.
— Staff report
Washington 003 000 2 — 5 10 0
Lincoln 200 020 0 — 4 5 3
Thomas Mora and Jacky Phung. Sean Rogers and Will Aspelin. W—Mora (6-4) L—Rogers (3-7). Leading hitters: Mora (W) 4×4, O’Koyea Dickson (W) 2×4, Rogers (L) 2×3. HR—None.
Galileo 204 001 0 — 7 11 4
Lowell 510 035 x — 14 12 1
Dylan Nelson, Klein (6) and Ramirez, Inagawa (2). Evan Brydon, Max Schumm (6) and Louis Buchbinder. W—Brydon (8-1-1). L—Nelson (6-5). S—Schumm (2). Leading hitters: Barber (G) 3×4, Nelson (G) 2×4, Schumm (L) 3×4, Narin Leininger (L) 2×3, Brydon (L) 2×4. HR—None.
San Francisco Section final
WHO: Washington (15-15-1) vs. Lowell (23-6-1)
WHEN: Thursday, 4 p.m. (approx.)