LANCASTER — Some Burbank High sports teams have made the most of the realignment instituted by the CIF Southern Section for the 2016-17 school year.
In the fall, the Bulldogs football team was bumped down divisions and went on to the program’s first-ever CIF title game. In the winter, the boys’ basketball team also moved down in divisions and earned a place in its first championship in 91 years.
Burbank baseball is looking to follow in those teams’ footsteps after moving down from Division II to Division IV this season.
The Bulldogs took their first step in making that a reality when they jumped out to an early lead and took advantage of 11 stolen bases Friday afternoon in a 10-5 first-round victory against host Lancaster, propelling them to the second round of the playoffs for the first time this century.
Burbank (15-9), which is in the midst of its first winning season since 2013, snapped a three-game postseason losing streak with the win against the Eagles (15-15), who tied for second in the Golden League. Burbank’s last postseason victory was a wild-card win in 2013 as the program had not moved past the first round this century until Friday.
The win earned the Bulldogs a place in the second round Tuesday when they will host Capistrano Valley Christian (19-7), the San Joaquin League champion, which defeated Rancho Alamitos, 11-1, in its opener Friday.
“We are used to playing really good teams, especially in our league,” said Burbank Coach Bob Hart, whose team finished third in the Pacific League and is the lone league team alive in the playoffs. “When we play teams like this we’re not in over our heads.
“We played well in our league this year and we won 10 games. No matter what division you’re in, it’s just a matter of playing well at the right time.”
Along with jumping out to an early lead, Burbank was devastating on the base paths, stealing 11 bases and only being caught once.
“It can be a little bit humiliating when you’re on the opposite end of that and a team is stealing bases like that,” Hart said. “The pitchers didn’t check that much and they didn’t pick, and the starter didn’t look comfortable picking. So once we were able to figure that out, we were off to the races.”
Burbank jumped on Lancaster starter JJ Holiday, as the first four batters got hits. Henry Leake (two for four) drove in a run with a single to left, Matt Shaugabay was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Matthew Moreno and Abiezer Delgado drove in runs with groundouts to stake the Bulldogs to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
After the Eagles got on the board with a run in the second, Burbank made it 9-1 after pushing across four runs in the third. Jonathan Castaneda (two for four with a walk and two runs scored) plated a run with a single and Chris Minnick (two for four with a walk, two runs batted in and two stolen bases) drove in two with a base hit.
“Scoring those five runs early is really something we haven’t done much of all year,” said Minnick, whose team took advantage of eight walks by two Lancaster pitchers. “We usually stay close with a team then come on to score runs late.
“But today it was really nice to be able to score that many runs early and go in front like that. It’s really a relief and we know we don’t have to come back.”
After the Bulldogs took the eight-run advantage, the Eagles scored three runs to make the score 9-4 after four innings.
Burbank tacked on a run in the seventh after Delgado (a hit, a walk and two stolen bases) singled and was replaced by pinch runner Daniel Ruiz, who scored on a single to left by Max Meltzer to make it 10-4.
Lancaster tallied a run it its half of the seventh.