BURBANK — The season finale of the baseball regular season for host Burroughs High and visiting Burbank would affect the final Pacific League standings as well as have playoff implications.
In a sloppy contest for both sides, it was Burbank that made the most of the Indians’ miscues to defeat the Bulldogs, 10-3, on Friday.
However, the evening turned into a celebration of the seniors on both squads, some of whom were playing their final high school game.
“I had juniors wanting to give up at-bats for seniors,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “Ultimately that is a testament to their character and that is probably what I am most proud of. I love to see guys who are selfless and team-oriented and we’ve got a lot of those guys. I’m probably more proud of that than the score.”
With the win for Burbank (10-12-1 9-4 in league), coupled with Crescenta Valley’s 3-0 defeat against league-champion Arcadia, the Bulldogs finish tied for second in league with the Falcons.
“When [my players] are willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to win and then they accomplish that, it’s a great feeling,” Hart said.
The loss for Burroughs (10-19, 7-7) means the Indians finish in fifth place in and their season comes to an end, as only the top four finishers from the league earn autonomic playoff berths.
The loss provided an emotional moment for the large number of Indians’ seniors, as well as coach Craig Sherwood.
“It was important to get all the seniors in tonight, 16 seniors,” Sherwood said. “Hopefully we would do well, but we just didn’t do well. Nobody’s fault. The ball didn’t bounce the right way or go where we wanted it to go.
“[Burbank] played a good game and they did well and we didn’t, but we tried and I’m proud of every single one of our guys.”
The teams combined for 12 walks, four hit batters and eight errors in a game that lasted nearly three hours.
The game was tied at 2 going into the third before Burbank put up a three-spot in the and the fourth take a 8-2 lead that wouldn’t be threatened. In the third, Daniel Ruiz, Troy Lee and Dominik Severo each drove in a run on a double, single and sacrifice fly, respectively.
The bottom of the third saw Indians starter Nicco Chuidian hit by a pitch for the second time, but the hosts did not score. In the top of the fourth Burbank cashed in on the first of three Indians errors in the frame for two runs. The third would bring in another run to make the score 8-3.
Burbank tacked on two more in the top of the fifth. The first came across on a single to center by starting pitcher Davis Mieliwocki. The second came on a bases-loaded walk by Lee.
The Bulldogs got on the board first in the second. Troy Lee led off, drawing an eight-pitch walk from Chuidian. Two batters later, Jakob Duarte drove Lee home with a double roped down the left-field line. Duarte later advanced to third on a passed ball. The junior then scored when the Indians were unable to complete a rundown after seemingly picking Andrew De La Torre — who reached on a walk — off of first base.
The Indians evened it up at 2 in the bottom of the frame with two runs. Burbank’s Mieliwocki started the inning by hitting Chuidian with a high pitch that glanced off his face, sending him to the dirt. He stayed down for a couple minutes but got back up and continued down to first base, seeming alright.
Preston Lemus then hit the next pitch for a double. Two batters later, Chuidian scored on a wild pitch that skipped away and got entangled with the fence, making it a dead ball and bringing home a run. Two batters later, Brian Garcia tied the game with a bunt single to score Lemus.
Mieliwocki got the win, striking out nine in five innings of work.
A noteworthy appearance was made by Burroughs’ Jesse Rodriguez, who had his first two at-bats of the season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. He reached base both times, and a pinch-runner who had taken over for him in the sixth would score the final run of the game on a ground-out by senior Andres Salazar.
“It was important to get him in tonight,” Sherwood said.
Overall, the hosts sent seven pitchers to the mound, as Sherwood made sure to get as many of his Indians into the final game of the season as possible.
“Thirty-nine years of doing this and it’s [still] tough,” Sherwood said of seeing his senior class go. “This is a group of seniors who were there every pitch. We just had a lot of bad luck this year.”
Burbank will learn its playoff fate as the pairings are set to be released Monday.