GLENDALE — One coach said it was an “insane” game. The opposing coach was amazed at his team’s resiliency.
One team had tears of joy while the other stood in disbelief.
Thursday’s Major Baseball Tri-Cities title game between Crescenta Valley Gangi and the Burbank Bulldogs had all the makings of an epic contest.
The starting pitchers were efficient, the drama was provided in the final two innings and the perfect ending — at least for the Bulldogs — was what every baseball player dreams about.
Burbank’s Ozzy Dominguez hit a walk-off, two-run home run on the first pitch he saw, lifting his team to a 4-3 victory at Babe Herman Field.
Gangi (22-7) and the Bulldogs (22-4-1) will try to match the suspense and heroics when they meet at 6 p.m. today at the same site in the if-necessary championship game.
“That’s an insane game,” Gangi Coach Frank Gangi said.
His team was two outs from winning the game and the title.
After allowing the Bulldogs to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning, Gangi had to face Tony Argenziano in the top of the sixth. Argenziano was dominant to that point, striking out eight and retiring seven in a row.
Argenziano struck out the first batter he faced before giving up a solo home run to Will Lombardo.
That’s when the drama heightened.
Two consecutive errors put runners on first and second. Argenziano — who allowed four hits and struck out eight, including six of eight between the first and third innings — was forced to leave the game because he reached the 85-pitch limit.
“He’s somebody we recently stumbled upon,” said Bulldogs Coach Mike Lockheimer, whose team scored in the fifth when Chris Peres doubled home Tanner Whitlock and Argenziano singled in Peres. “He’s the most level-headed kid we have. He doesn’t feel pressure.”
With Jake Whisenant at the plate, Gangi’s Max Meyer scored the tying run on a wild pitch. Whisenant followed with a double to right to score Jason Chang for a 3-2 Gangi lead.
“We knew it was going to be a battle,” Frank Gangi said.
Meyer, Gangi’s starting pitcher, struck out the first batter in the bottom of the sixth, but he also needed to be relieved after reaching the pitch limit. The Bulldogs capitalized in his absence.
Marco Tostado drew a five-pitch walk before Dominguez came to the plate.
“Ozzy has the green light every time he comes to the plate,” Lockheimer said. “He’s a hard hitter. It’s a matter of time before he got a hold of one. It just happened to be the right time.”
Dominguez, who said he struck out four times in his team’s previous game, expected a fastball and he got one. He delivered, setting off a euphoric celebration.
“I did not know it was gone,” he said. “Once I saw it go over, I was so happy. I felt like crying. In my backyard, I’ve always thought about this and I’ve always hit a home run.”
Lockheimer hoped Dominguez’s shot was deep enough, as it barely cleared the fence.
“I was praying it would stay up long enough to get over that fence,” he said.
Added Frank Gangi: “We had a great comeback. They had the last comeback.”