GLENDALE — The school year may be at an end, but action on the baseball diamond is in swing in the Valley Invitational Baseball League as St. Francis High hosted Burroughs on Friday at the Glendale Sports Complex.
In a game that featured some late-inning fireworks, the host Golden Knights mounted a comeback for an 11-8 win.
“What I’m really proud of them for is that they got behind, but they didn’t fall into that mindset of ‘We’re losing,’” St. Francis assistant Evan O’Meara said. “They just fell into the mindset of ‘We’re behind now and we’re going to work our way out of it,’ and they did.”
The game was knotted at 8 with one out in the bottom of the sixth when St. Francis’ Doyle Kane came to the plate with two runners on. Once a wild pitch by Indians reliever Michael Le put Golden Knights runners on second and third, Kane cashed in. He smashed a hit that sailed over the center fielder’s head straight away for a triple and two runs. Kane also hit a run-scoring single in the fifth.
“I came up [in the fifth] and just didn’t want to do too much,” Kane said. “Then I just fired one to center and those two scored.”
Brendan Durfee, who would finish with two RBIs, followed up Kane’s triple with a double into right field that scored Kane and staked the Golden Knights to a three-run advantage they would not relinquish.
Burroughs had built an early 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the fifth behind the efforts of starting pitcher Niccolo Chuidian, who would finish with four strikeouts. Chuidian had been firmly in control through four innings but lost it in the fifth, which would see St. Francis bring 11 players to the plate and score seven runs.
“I was a little surprised by [Chuidian’s fifth inning]. He is our No. 1 guy,” Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood said. “We thought we had five innings out of him, but we just couldn’t get it.”
With two outs in the frame, Chuidian hit his second batter of the inning and then walked the next Golden Knight to load the bases. Kane got an infield hit for the first run of the bottom of the fifth. Chuidian walked the next batter before giving way to Le, who walked in another run in a six-pitch at-bat to Tim DeLamora, who had driven in his team’s first run with a groundout in the fourth.
“I brought in a submarine pitcher [in Le] in a bad situation and that is on me,” Sherwood said.
With the bases still full, an Indians error brought home two more runs. Bryden Muro then drove in the sixth and seventh runs with a double. A ground out ended the inning with the hosts now up 8-5.
“We were down 5-1, but we just kept doing our thing at the plate,” Kane said.
However, the Golden Knights promptly gave up their three-run cushion in the top of the next inning. St. Francis pitcher Ryan Briggs came in for the top of the sixth and struggled with control. After recording one out he walked the next two Indians, Brian Garcia and Andres Salazar. Hyatt Entz followed by rocketing a triple into the right-center field gap to bring them home. Entz later scored on an errant pick-off attempt and the game was tied at 8.
“We goofed it up on the mound a little bit. We didn’t get sad. We bounced right back and came back with three runs in the bottom of the sixth,” O’Meara said.
Burroughs had built the early 5-1 advantage by scoring single runs in the first, fourth and fifth while scoring two in the third. The first run came on a sacrifice fly by Dylan Rolando. Collin Johnson singled in the next run. A St. Francis error scored the next one. The fourth run for the Indians, which came in the fourth, came in on what amounted to a double steal. Salazar was caught off first base by a pick-off play, but in the process of the rundown, Garcia stole home, beating a throw to the plate, which allowed Salazar to be safe at second. Burroughs’ fifth run came on a sacrifice fly by Joseph Estrada.