LA CRESCENTA — A win is a win, even if the victory is a "lucky" one.
That's how Foothill Junior Baseball Coach Dave Miller described Wednesday's 4-3 triumph against Burbank in an opening-round game of the District 16 All-Star Tournament at Dunsmore Park.
"We were lucky," Miller said. "But you have to win to get to the next step."
Miller was referring to when his team scored the winning run in the top of the sixth.
In the top of the sixth, Foothill and Burbank were locked at 3 in a back-and-forth game that saw Miller's squad commit four errors and leave 10 runners on base while scoring just one earned run.
With Foothill's Sean Harris standing at third, Eric Winner hit a sharp grounder at the third baseman. Miller had instructed Harris to sprint home, except on a hit to third or the pitcher. Harris went home anyway, and the third baseman fired a ball to the catcher.
"He was out by 10 feet," Miller said.
Said Harris: "I thought I was going to be tagged out five feet before I got there."
He wasn't tagged.
The catcher, thinking that the ball hit off Winner's bat was a line drive, threw back to third, allowing Harris to score.
"The catcher just missed it," Miller said. "I was already thinking about 9-1-2, their guys coming up to bat when Eric hit it."
His focus is now on Crescenta Valley, which drew a first-round bye in the three-team tournament. Foothill will meet Crescenta Valley at 5 p.m. Friday at the Tujunga Little League Complex in a winner's-bracket game. The loser of that contest will play Burbank at 4 p.m. Saturday in Tujunga in a second-chance bracket game.
The tournament's title game will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at Dunsmore Park.
Miller will likely rely on his pitching staff to advance to the championship.
Relief pitcher Jack Porras carried Foothill on Wednesday.
He threw 5 2/3 innings before having to leave with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning because of the 95-pitch limit. He allowed just two hits – a run-scoring single to his cousin Ryan Porras in the fifth and a hit to center field to Brennan Brown in the sixth – and struck out seven. He also walked two, Randy Catlett and Thomas Wilson, both of whom came around to score.
Even when Jack Porras ran into trouble, he escaped jams. Burbank was one for nine with a runner on base and didn't produce a hit in five opportunities with a runner in scoring position.
With the potential tying run at third, Foothill's Omar Perez forced Randy Higgins to fly out to left field to end the game.
"Offensively, we hit the ball," Burbank Coach Tony Castiglioni said. "We couldn't find gaps. We couldn't find holes."
Pierce Velazquez led Foothill at the plate, scoring twice. Winner had a pair of hits and reached base four times, including the final time in the sixth inning, which led to a "frustrating" win.
With Crescenta Valley practicing behind him, Miller said, "This win was frustrating. I know we can play better. We have to play better against CV."