For one of the few times all season, the Lowell High School baseball team didn’t outhit its opponent.
It didn’t matter. Aaron Leong and Jasper Scherer combined to shut out Balboa for the second consecutive day, and Andy Glickfeld drove in the only runs of the game in the Cardinals’ 2-0 win on Thursday at Sundberg Field.
With the victory, Lowell clinched the San Francisco Academic Athletic Association A Division league championship. The Cardinals (22-4 overall, 12-0 AAA) wrap up the regular season with two games against Washington next week, while Balboa (16-5, 9-2) has a pair of games with Galileo and a non-league contest against Lick-Wilmerding.
“It’s slowly sinking in we’re in first place and have won the league championship,” said Glickfeld, who delivered the key hit of the game, a two-run double with one out in the top of the sixth inning. “Now it’s on to the next step, and that’s trying to win the playoff championship [at AT&T Park].”
Glickfeld ripped a double just inside the left-field foul line to drive in Josh Vaughan and Elijah Saunders, who reached on a walk and single, respectively. Glickfeld’s hit was only five given up by Balboa starter Eli Smoot, who had another outstanding performance.
The junior right-hander struck out seven in a complete-game effort. Even though Smoot pitched well, Glickfeld was surprised his friend — the two have played together on various teams growing up, including last summer with the Treasure Island Pirates — pitched to him.
“I was looking fastball and that’s what I got,” Glickfeld said. “I was a little surprised they pitched to me because they had an open base [to put me on]. I felt I had to make them pay.”
Just as important as Glickfeld’s hit was the superb defensive play made by Lowell in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Balboa had runners at first and third with no out when Eric Roth laid down a bunt between Lowell third baseman Ryan Werth and Scherer, who ended up fielding the ball and throwing to Vaughan at first base for the out. Vaughan then made a perfect throw to catcher Justin Talbott, who tagged out Balboa’s Gio Norori for the double play at home plate.
“We had two baserunning blunders for mistakes,” Balboa coach Tom Pontino said. “Give Lowell credit — they didn’t make any mistakes. Eli did a great job, but we just didn’t give him enough run support.”
Even though Balboa outhit Lowell 8-5, it finished just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Leong pitched four innings of shutout ball before Scherer took over. In three meetings this season, Lowell has outscored Balboa 23-0.
The Cardinals beat the Buccaneers 11-0 in the Dick Murray tournament and delivered another mercy-rule decision on Wednesday to the tune of 10-0.
“Our guys just make plays,” Lowell coach John Donohue said. “Time and again they do what’s necessary to put themselves in a position to win.”