To the likely chagrin of the rest of the Academic Athletic Association, Galileo’s Kyle Nelson looked like his big brother Thursday.
Nelson, a skinny sophomore left-hander, doesn’t physically look like former two-time AAA Player of the Year Dylan Nelson in form or stature yet, but he showed he can take over a game on the mound and at the plate, just like his big bro, in a 7-4 win over Lincoln at the Moscone Recreation Center.
On the mound, Nelson threw a complete game, struck out 12 and allowed just two hits, and at the plate, he broke a 4-4 tie with a go-ahead, bases-clearing triple in the sixth inning.
After starting 0-for-3 at the plate, Nelson sent a 1-1 changeup from Lincoln starter Alejandro Hernandez, who also pitched a complete game, deep into right-center field to score the go-ahead runs.
“I was just way in front of [his change-up] in every at-bat, but I just knew it was coming,” Nelson said. “I was sitting in the batter’s box thinking, ‘Please, please throw it again.’ What he didn’t know, thank God, is that I couldn’t see his fastball at all.”
Nelson dominated Lincoln hitters throughout with a nearly unhittable sweeping curveball, but struggled to find the plate in the fifth inning, where all four of his charged earned runs were allowed. The sophomore took a no-hitter into the fifth with the Lions (8-5 AAA) leading 3-0, but walked the bases loaded with one out, then hit Lincoln third baseman Dylan Melowitz with a pitch to bring in the Mustangs’ first run.
Freshman catcher Craig Colen then cleared the bases with a crushed double to left-center field to break up the no-hitter and give the Mustangs (6-6 AAA) a 4-3 lead.
“Craig catches, he pitches, he hits, he plays the infield and as a freshman, he is the leader on this team,” first-year Lincoln coach Jim Neilly said. “He’s somebody that I would acknowledge as a key part of this season and a key part of the future, and that’s not easy for a freshman to do.”
The win, wrapping up a two-game sweep of Lincoln, clinches a playoff spot for Galileo and eliminates the Mustangs from the postseason for just the second time since 2003.
Galileo will have a bye week in the final stretch of AAA games before the playoffs begin, but Nelson and the Lions have confidence they can upset league favorites Lowell and Washington in a single elimination postseason situation.
“Two different teams can come out and you saw them both today,” Nelson said. “We can play like we did in the fifth inning, where everything breaks down, or we can be the team that fights and comes out to get the win. If that teams comes out and I pitch well enough, we can get anyone.”