The bad news for Hart High was cleanup hitter Jeff Gaeta had a sprained thumb, ace Andy Davidson didn't have his best stuff and Burroughs was hungry for a victory.
The good news was sophomore pitcher Jamie Shields has rediscovered his curveball and J.T. Stotts is just one of many players on the Hart roster capable of stepping up when needed.
On Friday, the good outweighed the bad and Hart defeated Burroughs, 6-4, in a Foothill League baseball game at Hart.
Hart (22-3, 11-2 in league play), which finished second to Burroughs (12-12, 7-6) last season, clinched its fifth Foothill League title in six seasons.
Stotts, who had three hits and four runs batted in, singled home Ryan Haag with one out in the sixth to break a 4-4 tie. He later scored on a double steal.
"We knew coming in that they would be able to hang with us," Stotts said. "But we have a lot of guys that can step up."
Shields (7-2) is one of them.
The sophomore right-hander, at one time the team's top pitcher, hit a slump about three weeks ago and Coach Bud Murray removed him from the starting rotation.
But Friday, when Davidson's fastball didn't have its usual zip and his curveball couldn't find the strike zone, Shields came to the rescue.
He entered the game with the score tied, 4-4, in the fifth inning and pitched three scoreless innings, allowed three hits and struck out six.
"Shields lost his breaking ball and he lost his composure for a bit there," Murray said. "But today he came in and battled. He kept us in it and gave us the chance to win it."
Shields, who said he has been working on his mental approach, threw first-pitch strikes to all 13 batters.
Of his 50 pitches, 38 were strikes.
"This is going to be a big boost for my confidence," Shields said. "I wasn't too happy about my last two outings, but I've got my curve down now. I feel I have all my pitches down."
Shields said he threw two curveballs Friday that Burroughs players hit.
"Both were ground outs," he said.
Gaeta, who is batting .506 with two home runs and 26 RBIs, sprained his thumb during fielding practice last week.
Murray expects the senior first baseman to return to the lineup next week.
Stotts' two-run home run tied the score, 4-4, in the fourth and his one-out single in the second drove home Shields to give Hart a 2-1 lead. Marke Horvat hit a solo home run for Hart.
Tommy Perez and Tony Sandoval hit solo home runs for Burroughs. Mike Shamoon had three hits--two of them infield singles--and scored two runs.
Nick Jastrow (6-2) went the distance, allowing 10 hits and striking out 10.
* ONE DOWN . . . Justin Wade threw a two-hitter as Taft upset top-ranked Chatsworth, 2-0, in a West Valley League game. Roundup, C15