Packed stands at Hart Park in Orange on Monday night provided a hint about the baseball game taking place. It was No. 1 Huntington Beach taking on No. 2 Orange Lutheran, and fans knew the atmosphere was worthy of the talent on the field.
No player responded better than 6-foot-6 junior left-hander Chris Burica of Orange Lutheran. He struck out seven and retired 13 of final 14 batters in a complete-game performance that resulted in a 5-3 victory for the Lancers (1-0).
"It's completely different than anything you can prepare for in practice," said Burica, a Creighton commit. "This is what you play baseball for. "
Burica gave up three runs in the third inning to fall behind, 3-0. But he didn't give up a hit the rest of the way. Dominic Abbadessa had two of Huntington Beach's three hits on the night.
Orange Lutheran closed to 3-2 in the third off Logan Pouelsen (0-1), with Garrett Mitchell contributing an RBI triple.
The hardest hit ball was by junior Zach Busalacchi, who blasted a home run over the left-field fence in the fifth.
Both teams will be much better later in the season. Orange Lutheran has several players injured. Huntington Beach (1-2) won't get two-way player Nick Pratto eligible until April 4.
But the Lancers learned that Burica is ready to be a top pitcher this season on a staff full of depth.
"He showed some serious heart," Coach Eric Borba said. "He's battled all summer and winter to be in this spot."
In other games, Glendora defeated Bell Gardens, 15-0, in six innings. Wyatt Regis had a home run, double and three RBIs. Gavin Coppin added a home run and three RBIs.
Highly touted junior Travis Burleson made his season debut for Fountain Valley and threw a one-hitter with nine strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over Long Beach Poly at USC.
Temescal Canyon defeated Valley View, 6-5. Matt Tomazin hit an RBI double in the bottom of the sixth to drive in the go-ahead run.Tyler Hardman homered.