LA CAÑADA — With both the head coaches for the Bur
bank High and La Cañada baseball teams not in attendance Thursday, the skippers would have to find out how their respective teams made out from afar.
The young Spartans were able to keep pace with the experienced Bulldogs for three innings, with Burbank enjoying just a one-run lead. However, the La Cañada offense stalled through the middle innings, while the Bulldogs kept scoring.
Behind by eight runs heading into their final at-bats, the Spartans made some noise, pushing across four runs in the bottom of the seventh. But the Bulldogs were able to weather the comeback and walk away with an 11-7 victory in a Valley Invitational Baseball League game at La Cañada High.
“I thought that we had a nice offensive balance and a lot of the guys hit the ball and got on base,” Burbank assistant coach Greg Renta said. “We also played good defense and got a good effort from our starting pitcher.”
On offense, eight of the nine Burbank starting players reached base.
On the mound, the Bulldogs received a steady effort from Randy Higgens. The senior went four innings to pick up the win, allowing three runs, four hits, striking out one and walking one.
“I felt that I really didn’t have my best stuff today,” Higgens said. “My elbow was a little sore and I felt like I wasn’t getting the pitches over that I should have. I just didn’t feel that good out there.”
Unlike Burbank, which had just one new player in the starting lineup from last season’s team, the Spartans fielded a squad of young players after losing eight to graduation.
“We have a true freshman and three sophomores out there playing every inning for us,” La Cañada assistant coach Murph Proctor said. “We also pitched two guys who didn’t pitch at all last year. So, we are real happy with where we’re heading. The younger guys are getting a lot of playing time.
“This league is really fantastic and it is giving our guys the experience that they need. It is nice because it gets them used to what varsity baseball is all about.”
For the Bulldogs, Cameron Briggs was two for three with two walks, one run scored and one run driven in, Randy Porras had a two-run triple and Fischer Cabot was two for three with an RBI.
Burbank got on the board early, as Briggs opened the game with a walk and scored on a sacrifice fly by Higgens.
La Cañada responded by knotting the score at 1 with a run in its half of the first. David Yoon doubled to right-center field and scored on a bloop single to right by Mike Fuelling.
The Bulldogs then tallied three runs in the second, the big blow coming on the two-run scoring triple by Porras.
The Spartans cut the deficit to 4-3 with single runs in the second and third.
But La Cañada would then sputter on offense and couldn’t score any runs until the seventh inning. Burbank, on the other hand, tallied one run in the fourth and three each in the fifth and seventh innings to take an 11-3 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
“We made some mistakes in those innings and we had some problems on the bases,” Proctor said. “But that is what summer is for. We would rather them make the mistakes now and learn from them rather than make them when the real season starts in spring.”
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.