GLENDALE — A season ago, the Burbank High baseball team and the Crescenta Valley High baseball team were neck-and-neck atop the standings and eventually shared the Pacific League crown.
But a year later, with Burbank relying on an inexperienced lineup after graduating 14 seniors, Crescenta Valley looks as if it has the upper hand.
The Falcons bested the young Bulldogs on Friday night at Stengel Field, 4-1.
“Beating every team will make us feel good,” Crescenta Valley senior Michael Russo said. “But because we shared it with them, it adds to how good we feel about everything.”
Friday capped a good eight-day run for the Falcons (10-7, 3-1), who have responded with three straight wins in that stretch after they dropped their league opener to Pasadena on April 1. And it capped an especially good evening for Russo.
The 6-foot-2 right fielder went three for three at the plate after belting two home runs and a double for three runs batted in. His first homer came on a solo shot to right-center in the bottom of the first inning and he followed up with a two-run shot in the third.
“I was just looking for a team at-bat and trying to get more runs on the board,” Russo said. “To help [Brian] Gadsby while he was pitching. I wasn’t really expecting that today.”
Both line drives cleared the outfield wall at almost the exact spot.
“He was throwing a curveball and a changeup,” Russo said. “Slower stuff. I saw it longer and I could just react better.”
The two-run shot in the third put the Falcons up, 3-0, before they tallied another run when junior designated hitter Brett Klein lined a double to left field to bring in freshman catcher Kewin Ledesma. For the game, they posted four extra-base hits.
Meanwhile, Gadsby, Crescenta Valley’s junior pitcher and No. 1 starter, continued to have his way against the Bulldogs (3-10-1, 0-4), tossing a two-hit shutout.
Although he ran into some trouble early, giving up consecutive walks in the second and hitting a batter in the third, he regained his composure. In total, the right-hander struck out eight batters and carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning.
“I mean, it wasn’t my best game,” Gadsby said. “Like coach [Phil Torres] said, it was the ugliest two-hitter he’s seen in his life. Three walks. A hit batter. But, we got the job done and we got the win.”
Burbank center fielder Ryan Porras broke up Gadsby's no-hit bid in the sixth when he slapped a double down the third-base line. Gadsby gave up a leadoff single in the seventh to senior left fielder Sam McKinnon, who hit a dribbler through the right side.
“He throws well,” Burbank Coach Bob Hart said. “He’s very talented. I like him a lot. He hit his spots when he needed to. He got ahead in counts, which always leads to success.”
For the Bulldogs, who haven’t won since a 4-3 win over Granada Hills in the Babe Herman Tournament in mid-March, it marked their fifth consecutive loss.
“It’s the youngest team I’ve had in the 10 years I’ve been here,” Hart said. “We start two or three freshmen. We start a sophomore. We lost our No. 1 on the hill and we lost our catcher. When that happens, you have to play a lot cleaner and straight baseball to be successful. And that’s what you look for. You look for them to be sharp mentally and not make mistakes.”
Both teams continue league play on Tuesday. Crescenta Valley hosts Muir, and Burbank is at Hoover.