While defending Academic Athletic Association baseball champion Washington High School has limped through its first four games, Lowell is looking like the prime candidate to supplant the Eagles.
The Cardinals followed a 13-0 win over International in their opener on Saturday with a 12-3 rout of Stuart Hall in the second round of the Dick Murray tournament on Monday at Silver Terrace Playground.
Lowell (2-0) jumped out to a 10-0 lead after the first three innings, highlighted by a two-run home run into the right-center gap by senior center fielder Nick Tam.
Tam, who leads off the Lowell lineup and was the Cardinals’ No. 1 starting pitcher last season, also drew two walks and scored a game-high three runs before being removed, along with most of the Lowell starters, midway through the game.
The senior hit .333 last season with three extra-base hits, but the home run Monday was the first of his high school career.
“We’re starting to hit a little bit,” Lowell coach John Donohue said. “We have five games this week and I was worried a little bit about the pitching, but we didn’t have to go to Tam today out of the bullpen. He can still swing the bat and help us defensively.”
Lowell didn’t need Tam’s help on the mound, because junior starting pitcher Elijah Saunders threw four strong innings, allowing four hits and one unearned run, while striking out two on 53 pitches.
“We have seven or eight kids that can throw and I’m glad things are going well,” Donohue said. “This is a rejuvenated Lowell baseball team with a great coaching staff and we’re putting all the pieces together. It’s been a lot of fun so far.”
Much of Stuart Hall’s early problems stemmed from a rough outing by starting pitcher Gerald Reader, who struggled to find the strike zone and allowed seven runs in the first two innings.
The Knights’ defense didn’t do much to help. Only three of Reader’s runs were earned and Stuart Hall (1-1) had five errors in the game.
“It was just one of those games,” Stuart Hall coach Eddie Russell said.
“If you go out and don’t have good stuff, the defense gets on their heels and there are a couple of plays we should have made that we didn’t.”
One of the lone bright spots for the Knights was freshman reliever Steven Everest, who inherited a 7-0 deficit, but pitched the final five innings, struck out four and allowed just three earned runs.
“For him being a freshman, he went out there and showed a lot of guts,” Russell said. “He kept us right in the game and we had an opportunity to make it close, and that’s all I can ask from him.”
Stuart Hall’s best opportunity came in the fifth inning, where it scored two runs off Lowell reliever Michael Read.
With the bases loaded and one out Donohue pulled Read and brought in left-hander Jasper Scherer, who struck out the next batter on three pitches and got standout junior Ben Carrasco to fly out on one pitch to end the threat.
Scherer went on to pitch two more innings to close the game out and allowed just one hit.
The Cardinals stand at 2-0 in the Blue Division of the round-robin tournament and will likely take on Sacred Heart Cathedral in the championship game next Monday.
“In addition to playing league opponents this week, we’re playing Riordan on Friday and if we can get by Lincoln [in the third tournament game] on Saturday, we’ll get Sacred Heart Cathedral,” Donohue said. “Any time you get to go against the [West Catholic Athletic League], we’re very happy to have that opportunity.”