BURBANK — The Burroughs High baseball team didn’t score a run through eight innings against Muir High in a Pacific League game three days earlier, suffering a one-run defeat.
But when the Indians hosted the Mustangs on Friday, Burroughs rediscovered its offense early.
The Mustangs struck first in the top of the first inning, but the Indians battled back to take a one-run lead in the bottom of the second.
In a stark contrast to Tuesday’s contest, the teams amassed five runs in the first two innings, but it was Burroughs that brought home two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to earn a crucial 5-2 league victory against visiting Muir.
With the win, Burroughs (9-13, 6-2 in league) solidified its spot behind league front-runners Arcadia (17-1, 7-1) and Crescenta Valley High (12-6, 6-1), which hosted Burbank High (5-9-1, 5-2) on Friday night.
“I don’t look at the standings because we have so many good teams now,” Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood said. “I look at Tuesday against Arcadia. That’s all I’m looking at. We have to look at Tuesday against Arcadia, and nothing else matters.
“I don’t care what anyone else does. I don’t care who anyone else plays. I just care about how we do Tuesday at Arcadia. That’s my one, single focus. It’s a cliché to take it one game at a time, but if you don’t in this situation, you’re done.”
Although the Mustangs (12-5, 4-4) shut out the Indians in a 1-0 win Tuesday at Muir, Burroughs lead-off batter Brian Garcia and Indians starting pitcher Nicco Chuidian learned a few things in between games.
“I think my fastball recognition was working today,” Garcia said. “I wasn’t looking at any off-speed pitches and I knew they were going to be throwing a lot of that. They got me a few times with that in the last game. I was really only looking at their fastball.”
Garcia doubled twice and drove in three runs, the first to stake his team to a 3-2 lead. On the mound, Chuidian surrendered three hits with six strikeouts, three walks and two runs in six innings.
In the top of the first, Chuidian walked Muir lead-off batter Amaris Harrison, who would go on to score the game’s opening run on a ground-out for a 1-0 lead.
The Indians came back to take a 2-1 advantage with a one-out run-scoring single from first baseman Collin Johnson and a run-scoring double from Chuidian at the bottom of the first.
Despite giving up another run in the top of the second to allow Muir to tie the game at 2, the junior pitcher struck out three and followed with three, straight 1-2-3 innings to keep the Mustangs scoreless.
“I felt like, the first inning especially when I walked [Amaris Harrison] with four straight, I had that concern where I knew that if I got the first two on, they were going to score,” Chuidian said. “That was in my head the entire time warming up, the entire time in my [bullpen] and even when I finally started the game.
“It clearly showed that I was worried about that, but, as time went on, I realized, as a team, we were locking down on defense. They started slowing down, so it gave me more confidence.”
Garcia gave Burroughs a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second with a one-out double that scored left fielder Johnny Angel.
With runners on first and second, the Garcia, a junior shortstop, belted a two-RBI double off of Muir relief pitcher Amaris Harrison to extended the Indians’ lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth.
“I knew they weren’t going to let down,” Garcia said. “They were going to keep fighting and fighting until the very last pitch. Got a lot of respect for those guys. We had to take advantage of every little situation we had or any runner on. We had to do something with them.”
Burroughs’ relief pitcher Julian Jaramillo closed the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the seventh.
“We had to throw strikes,” Sherwood said. “We had to keep them off the bases. I know that we can play defense with anybody. Our defense is proven.
“We have a three-year varsity [guy] starting on the mound who throws strikes for us. We know the key was to keep their first two guys off the bases or they’ll create havoc all the time.”