BURBANK — Missing a large portion of its team, St. Francis High’s baseball team fielded a depleted squad Wednesday evening.
Across the diamond, Burbank countered with a young group for its Valley Invitational Baseball League contest.
It was youth, with a big contribution from a seasoned player, that helped elevate the Golden Knights.
Paced by a fine effort from starting pitcher Ethan Sanders and four runs batted in by Doyle Kane, St. Francis scored seven runs over the first three innings and cruised to a 9-1 victory at Burbank.
“For our pitchers, we went sophomore, junior, junior and the last guy was a sophomore,” said St. Francis coach Aaron Dorlarque, whose hurlers gave up just a combined three hits. “I think we had three guys from the varsity last season who were out there today. We have other players off in Arizona playing in the Junior Olympics and other places.
“But we have some young guys who have some talent and we wanted to put them in there and see what they could do. …I think we did a lot of good things today and I am pretty pleased.”
One of the Golden Knights’ key players from this past season led the team’s offensive exploits. Senior first baseman Doyle Kane, who is splitting his time in summer with the St. Francis football team, went three for four with two doubles, four runs batted in and two runs scored.
“I just came back from playing football and I got here a little late,” Kane said. “So it was nice to be able to go out there and be productive.
“In summer, it’s all about getting the reps and getting the team together. Putting together a brotherhood is always key.”
Sanders got the start on the hill for St. Francis and turned in a steady performance for the victory. The sophomore went four innings, giving up two hits, striking out three and not yielding a walk.
The Golden Knights put pressure on the Bulldogs early by taking a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, taking advantage of three walks, a hit batter and one hit. Brayden Muro walked and was plated by a double to deep center field by Kane. Kane scored when Mason McGuiness was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
“In the summer, it’s a matter of us giving guys looks so they can earn spots or solidify spots if that’s the case, or ascend a little bit,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “We were very young today and I think we had two starters from the Burroughs game Monday who played in this game.
“But the young guys deserve some playing time and some looks. They have put in the time, they are committed and they deserve that. We just want to provide them the opportunity and let the chips fall where they may.”
The Golden Knights added three runs in the second to increase their lead to 5-0. Sanders walked and Tommy Italia singled through the right side. The two scored on a double down the left-field line by Kane. Kane came around on a single to right-center by Brenden Durfee.
A double to left field by Sanders that scored a run and an infield single by Kane that brought home a run helped the Golden Knights tack on two runs in the third for a 7-0 advantage.
Burbank broke through with a run in the sixth. Alberto Ayala doubled to left field and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Troy Lee.