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Burbank baseball drops tourney opener to Cleveland

Burbank baseball drops tourney opener to Cleveland
Burbank High's Andrew De La Torre rounds second base on his way home after hitting a home run against Cleveland. (Raul Roa \ Staff Photographer)

BURBANK — Burbank High baseball started on a bright note in its opening game of the 2019 Babe Herman Tournament on Saturday.

The Bulldogs strung together a single and a double to take a one-run advantage in the bottom of the first inning against Cleveland.

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But the Cavaliers woke up in the third inning and scored three runs in the frame to set up a two-run lead.

Cleveland hung on to its lead and defeated Burbank, 5-2, in the opening round of the tournament.

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“I was happy with a lot of things, but what I wasn’t happy about was our inability to make small adjustments,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “We tend to be stubborn sometimes in terms of our approach and it’s a game of adjustments. Chess and checkers, you know.

“We didn’t make our adjustments, but I was pleased with our intensity. Our pitching was solid, so overall, I’m pleased, but you’re never that pleased with a loss.”

Bulldogs sophomore Ryan King started things off with a single to right field before senior David Ruiz delivered a two-out, run-scoring double to bring home the first run for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

But the Cavaliers struck back. With no outs in the top of the third, Cleveland junior Alec Garcia smacked a two-run double to put his team in the lead, then scored on a sacrifice fly to give the Cavaliers a 3-1 advantage.

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“I think our ability to do the little things; move guys over, get them in on first, get a base hit, get them over and get them in, [which] helped us get our runs,” said King, who started on the mound for the Bulldogs.

“I realized our offense could score those runs back, so I wasn’t really worried about that. I was worried about getting my head right to go back out there and put some more zeros.”

The Bulldogs (2-7-1) pulled one back when Andrew De La Torre powered a home run to center in the bottom of the fourth inning to cut Cleveland’s lead to 3-2.

The Cavaliers (6-4) responded immediately in the top of the fifth with a home run in the same direction from junior Adrian Gonzalez to give Cleveland a 4-2 advantage.

“The one run Burbank scored normally would be an out — not to demean anything,” Cleveland coach Sid Lopez said. “Even our home run wouldn’t have been a home run. You have to adjust to the surroundings, but, defensively, I thought we were pretty solid.”

Burbank looked to threaten in the bottom half of the inning as junior Oaklee Spens made contact. But a line drive from King was turned into a 6-4-3 double play that set up a 1-2-3 fifth inning for Cleveland.

“They were throwing ball after ball in the dirt and our guys just sometimes refused to make that adjustment and that’s a big part of the game,” Hart said. “Once we get more in line with that, I think we’ll be more successful.”

Cleveland capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly from junior Ivan Castillo to bring in senior Dustin Aubry for the 5-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning.

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“This is a pretty good ball club,” said Lopez, whose squad is comprised mainly of returning juniors who reached the CIF Los Angeles City Section Open Division semifinal last season.

“Bob has done a great job with his kids here, so we expect to have competition every time we get here.”

King pitched five innings and surrendered four runs and a walk on six hits. He also had a hit and scored a run. Ruiz and De La Torre both finished with one hit and one RBI, while Cleveland’s Garcia recorded a pair of RBI.

Cavaliers pitcher Christopher Lozano pitched a complete game with six strikeouts, a walk and two runs on six hits.

On the Cleveland bench was a pair of assistant coaches, and brothers, who once played at now defunct Bellarmine-Jefferson High. Matt Magallon graduated in 2005 and Mitch Kellogg was class of 2013. Both were standouts for the Guards before playing on the collegiate level.

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