BURBANK HIGH â€” With three games remaining in the baseball season, Hoover and Burbank highs were still in a heated battle for a postseason spot.
With the Tornadoes enjoying a one-game lead on the Bulldogs in the Pacific League standings with the fourth and final CIF Southern Section playoff spot at stake, Friday's game was important for both squads.
However, for Burbank, the game was a must-win, as it had to secure a victory to stay in the postseason hunt.
But Hoover starting pitcher Oscar Aguirre never gave the Bulldogs a chance.
The senior right-hander threw a complete-game three-hitter to power the Tornadoes to a 5-0 road win.
With a two-game lead over the Bulldogs (11-12-1, 6-6 in league), even if Hoover (12-7, 8-4) were to lose its final two games next week against Crescenta Valley and rival Glendale and Burbank also sweeps its final two, the Tornadoes would claim the final playoff spot because they won both games this season against their foe.
â€œWe knew how important this game was for us,â€ said Aguirre, who had six strikeouts and allowed just seven baserunners. â€œWe knew that Burbank was going to come to play, we just wanted to play harder.â€
The win was a big boost for the Hoover program, which can finish no worse than fourth in league.
The Tornadoes find themselves in the postseason after failing to make it to the playoffs in 2007.
The loss was devastating for Burbank and Coach Bob Hart, who were looking to get into the playoffs for only the second time in 17 years.
The team made the postseason last season for the first time since 1991.
â€œIt's disappointing, because we just didn't hit [Friday],â€ Hart said. â€œBut you have to give it to [Aguirre]. He threw a lot of pitches and he got them the win.â€
With Aguirre finding his groove, the Hoover offense made life difficult for Burbank starter Justin Rivas early on.
The Tornadoes scored one run in the first inning and then tacked on one more in the second inning and three in the third to quickly put the Bulldogs in a hole.
â€œWe talked about that before the game,â€ Hoover Coach Jim Delzell said. â€œWe knew that the key to winning this game was to score runs early, and we were able to do just that.â€
The Tornadoes hammered out 10 hits, including four in the third inning.
The big hit in the fourth came on a bases-loaded double by Johnny Barcena that scored two runs. Oscar Aguirre, Jason Tapia and Juan Aguirre had singles in the inning.
Oscar Aguirre was two for four.
All of Burbank's three hits were doubles, delivered by Austin Cripps, Chris Montgomery and Victor Anaya.
â€œIn our final two games, we just have to play for pride and try and end our season with some wins,â€ Hart said.