San Francisco Section baseball title game a family affair as sister beats twin brother at Giants' ballpark

By Mitch Stephens May 18, 2022, 11:45am

Isabella Fong's Washington squad bests Roman's Lowell club 6-1 as siblings enjoy once-in-a-lifetime moment.

SAN FRANCISCO — Well after a decisive six-run, fifth-inning uprising, a raucous dogpile near the mound and the victorious jog around the park for the Washington (San Francisco) baseball team, Isabella Fong and Roman Fong had their moment. Next to home plate. Side-by-side.

For the first time in their lives, the 16-year-old twin sophomores were in opposite uniforms on the same field — Isabella for the victorious Eagles and Roman for Lowell (San Francisco) which came into Tuesday's contest as the seven-time defending section champion.

They had just faced each other at Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and a place where they'd sat cheering on their hometown team countless times before. And they played for the coveted San Francisco Section championship with Isabella's Washington team winning its 12th section title but first since 2012 with a 6-1 victory.

"Amazing just to be standing here," Roman said. "To stand in the box and hit at this place — just awesome."

Said Isabella: "And to be here with my brother. It's so cool we got to finally face each other — and of all places, here."
Lowell's Roman Fong (left) and twin sister Isabella Fong, of Washington, pose following the Eagles' 6-1 win in the San Francisco Section title game Tuesday at Oracle Park.
Lowell's Roman Fong (left) and twin sister Isabella Fong, of Washington, pose following the Eagles' 6-1 win in the San Francisco Section title game Tuesday at Oracle Park.
Photo by Darren Yamashita
The final result was way cooler for sis, a pitcher and infielder. Though she didn't play — she was called up from the junior varsity for the postseason — she celebrated mightily with her teammates who stunned a Lowell team that had defeated Washington 16 straight times since 2017 entering Tuesday's finals, including three times earlier this season, 4-1, 8-7 and 3-2.



The Eagles (16-10) got a complete-game, six-hitter from senior Devon Benningfield, who also ripped a laser triple off the fence in right field and added an RBI single to finish off the six-run rally in the fifth. Four-year starter, shortstop Kayne Moody, led a stellar infield defense that turned a couple nifty double plays.

This against a Lowell squad (21-8) had scored 115 runs in its previous eight games, all wins.

Roman, Lowell's leadoff man and third baseman, had a single and was robbed of another hit by Washington third baseman William Lam.

"I think our team has special chemistry," Isabella said. "I don't think Lowell was expecting us to do this."

Few expect to see a girl playing high school baseball, but Isabella has been a standout for years, starring as a youth for the San Francisco Bay Sox, an all-girls baseball program in the City.

Washington varsity coach Thomas Mora said Isabella is "very solid, fundamentally great, extremely coachable and one hell of a baseball player. I'm looking forward to having her next year full-time on varsity."
Washington celebrates its 12th San Francisco Section title but first since 2012.
Washington celebrates its 12th San Francisco Section title but first since 2012.
Photo by Darren Yamashita
He said next season he'll do whatever he can to make sure Isabella pitches against her brother. "We have to get back here first," he said.



The twins were split up due largely to a complex merit-based entrance system into the San Francisco Unified School District, which has since been changed to a lottery system. Their eighth-grade brother Reggie, also a baseball player, is scheduled to enroll at Lowell in the fall.

"I was bummed (by the split) because we'd gone to the same school for our whole lives," Roman said. "I knew it was going to be tough since we'd always had each other to rely on and talk to during the day.

"Overall, I was excited for both of us because I knew about the Lowell-Washington rivalry. It added another excuse to be competitive with each other."

Sibling rivalries run in the Fong family.

Their father Roger played baseball and was a 1990 Lowell graduate. His siblings also attended Washington, as did his father Joe.

Rooting interests Tuesday were utterly mixed.
Roger Fong, father of Isabella and Roman, graduated from Lowell in 1990.
Roger Fong, father of Isabella and Roman, graduated from Lowell in 1990.
Photo by Mitch Stephens
Joe sat in the Washington's section down the first-base line. Mom Pia, who attended private high school in San Francisco, sat directly behind home plate and Roger sat just left of center while sporting a specially designed cap with both Eagle and Cardinal mascots.



"They are both way better than I ever was," Roger said with a proud smile. "We're just both so happy to have both of them playing here today."

He recalled the twins running the bases at Oracle after a Giants' game one Sunday as part of the Junior Giants program when they were 7. "I don't think we ever imagined them playing against each other here all these years later," Roger said.

The twins admitted there was chatter once each won semifinal games on Thursday. Some was at the dinner table, but mostly via text. With Lowell's history of dominance, Isabella didn't have a lot of ammunition.

"She just said, ‘We'll see what happens,' " Roger said.

After the game, near home plate, the fans gave both an ovation, well aware of the novelty of a brother and sister facing one another. Roman reluctantly recalled one of his texts to his sister during the weekend.

"I said something about that it was going to be a depressing car ride home (for her)," he said. "But I guess that ride is going to be for me now."



He did perk up when reminded at least one Fong was victorious and will advance to regionals in two weeks. He then showed some older brother pride, noting that he's one minute Isabella's senior.

"You know what, it's awesome (she won)," he said. "But it's always awesome that she's a girl playing baseball. Everyone is always like, ‘She plays baseball? Not softball? No, it's baseball.' And now she's on the varsity team. And she won a championship. It's a proud moment for my family and I. It feels bad to be on the losing side, but I'm super proud of her."

With that, Roman threw out his arms wide, Isabella fell inside and they embraced — their moment, their Oracle face-off was complete.
Roman Fong (left) and Isabella Fong embrace well after Washington defeated seven-time defending champion Lowell for the San Francisco Section championship Tuesday at Oracle Park.
Roman Fong (left) and Isabella Fong embrace well after Washington defeated seven-time defending champion Lowell for the San Francisco Section championship Tuesday at Oracle Park.
Photo by Darren Yamashita
Isabella Fong takes field during player introductions.
Isabella Fong takes field during player introductions.
Photo by Darren Yamashita
Washington senior Devon Benningfield fired a complete-game six-hitter and had two hits.
Washington senior Devon Benningfield fired a complete-game six-hitter and had two hits.
Photo by Darren Yamashita
Washington shortstop Kayne Moody turns one of two double plays during his team's 6-1 win over Lowell for the San Francisco Section championship at Oracle Park.
Washington shortstop Kayne Moody turns one of two double plays during his team's 6-1 win over Lowell for the San Francisco Section championship at Oracle Park.
Photo by Darren Yamashita
Washington senior shortstop Kayne Moody celebrates another defensive gem from his Eagles.
Washington senior shortstop Kayne Moody celebrates another defensive gem from his Eagles.
Photo by Darren Yamashita