Galileo High School's baseball squad was invited to a big party it hadn’t attended for 32 years. And although the surprising team left the bash without celebration, the Lions made things tough for Oakland Tech, the eventual victor of the San Francisco-Oakland best-of-three Transbay Series.
The fact that Galileo got into the Transbay Series at all represented an amazing comeback from a team that battled back all season long. When Erik Wilson hit an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Galileo a 5-4 victory over Washington in the San Francisco Section title game at AT&T Park, the unlikely victory gave Galileo its first SFS title since 1978. Wilson’s clutch hit made Lions hurler Dylan Nelson the winning pitcher, by throwing a five-hitter with 11 strikeouts, while adding two doubles and a triple from the plate.
The Lions were led all season long by three standout performers, including Senior Nelson (.581 regular season batting average, 43 hits, 26 RBI, 2 HR & 35 stolen bases. As a pitcher: 3 wins, 76 strikeouts and 2.42 ERA) was selected as the Academic Athletic Association Player of the Year in football and baseball, Erik Wilson (.368 regular season batting average, 28 hits, 22 RBI, 2 HR & 15 stolen bases) and Dustin Andrick (.432 regular season batting average, 35 hits, 19 RBI, & 25 stolen bases. As a pitcher: 5 wins, 70 strikeouts and 2.88 ERA). Nelson was the team’s leader all year long both on the field and off, a graduating senior who was closely watched by pro scouts before signing to play next season at the College of San Mateo.
In game one of the Transbay Series, a go-ahead RBI single from senior Garrett Kwong gave Galileo a victory over Oakland Tech 5-4 in the initial contest played on May 19 at San Francisco State.
Galileo started the sixth inning leading 2-1, but the Bulldogs of Oakland Tech re-captured the lead with a steal of home by Gabriel Freund and a monster RBI triple from Kelvin McMiller.
The Lions responded in the bottom half of the inning however, with a two-RBI single by Dustin Andrick. After Andrick’s single, he advanced to second on a balk and Kwong knocked in the eventual game-winning run with a sharp single to center field.
Senior pitcher Dylan Nelson had another solid start for the Lions, allowing one earned run while striking out 12 in the complete-game one victory.
Game two of the Transbay Series took place on May 24 at the Oakland Coliseum. Galileo’s Coach Papa wanted to win the game to avoid a third and final contest to be played at Henderson Field in Oakland, located right down the street from the Oakland Tech campus.
“I’ve got one game more left in me,” Papa said. “I don’t want to play two more. One trip to Oakland will be good. I’m just happy they keep hanging in there and figuring out ways to win.”
But, game two didn’t go as well as Papa anticipated, because the Lions ran into a hot pitcher, an Oakland Tech sophomore named Matt Cornell who threw 12 strikeouts and shut Galileo down, 8-0 to tie the series at 1-1. Cornell was brilliant, scattering 10 hits and stranded 11 Lion runners.
It was a big day for the entire Cornell family as one of the Bulldog’s coaches and Matt’s father, Pete Cornell, is a professional saxophonist who played the national anthem prior to the game at the Oakland Coliseum. Cornell’s exemplary performance led Bulldogs to the deciding game on May 26 at Rickey Henderson field.
Galileo wasn’t on their game in the second contest, committing six errors that lead to seven unearned runs behind losing left-hand pitcher Dustin Andrick, who gave up eight hits, struck out eight and walked three.
Galileo Coach Don Papa obviously wasn’t enamored by his Lion’s play, but remained very hopeful to capture the series by taking a trip back to Oakland for game 3. “I saw these kids lose 27-2 in its Academic Athletic Association finale to Washington, but then we beat them two weeks later in the San Francisco Section finals. This is a very resilient squad and they never quit.”
So, Galileo’s baseball season came down to the final contest of a three-game series. Nelson stepped up once more by pitching a five-hitter while striking out 10 and shutting out Oakland Tech for the final six innings in a 2-1 Transbay championship game victory for the Bulldogs at Rickey Henderson Field in Oakland.
McMiller out-dueled Dylan Nelson in the deciding game, who allowed just three hits. The Bulldog hurler was shaky during the first inning and walked lead-off batter William Kay who moved to third on a double by Dustin Andrick.
After back-to-back walks to Nelson and Garrett Kwong, the Lions had a short-lived 1-0 lead. McMiller shut the door with consecutive strikeouts.
In the bottom half, McMiller singled home Azeem Ahmad, who opened with a walk and stole second. Matt Cornell then drove home the game-winner with an RBI single to score McMiller.
Nelson then got out of a jam in the second inning when Tech catcher Evan Williams tripled, but was promptly picked off. Nelson then struck out the next two to squirm out of a tough spot.
McMiller then escaped trouble during the sixth inning when Nelson and Erik Wilson drilled back-to-back singles in the third, but he struck out the next two and persuaded Jonathan Lu to ground out.
In the seventh inning, Andrick reached on an error but was thrown out at third base following a single from Nelson, when Oakland Tech’s Ahmad made an accurate throw.
"We accomplished a ton of great things this year" Papa said. "Today was a prime example of our entire season. Out three big guys (Nelson, Wilson and Andrick) carried us at the top of the order."
"I didn't have my best stuff today,” Nelson said. “I never felt comfortable on the mound and my curve wasn't breaking. Everything was a plus, because when we started this season I didn’t think we’d even make the playoffs. So, to get this far is a big deal. We found ways to win games all year long and we never gave up.”