GLENDALE — The Burbank Bulldogs did more than just force an if-necessary game by winning Thursday on a walk-off home run. They might as well have just won the title.
Their opponents in the Major Baseball Tri-Cities Championship — Crescenta Valley Gangi Builders — used up their best available pitchers in the losing effort on Thursday leaving them with a major disadvantage the day after.
What resulted when Friday night came around was predictable, as the Bulldogs jumped on inexperienced pitching and took just four innings to defeat Gangi, 10-0, and win the title.
“We had available pitching, and they had used up their top pitchers the day before,” said Bulldogs Coach Mike Lockheimer.
Lockheimer and his squad wasted no time in letting Ozzy Dominguez hold the championship trophy first. Dominguez hit the walk-off home run that forced the deciding game, and was instrumental Friday night, as well.
With the Bulldogs (23-4-1) leading, 7-0, in what had already been a nightmarish bottom of the fourth inning for Gangi, which trailed by just three runs going into the inning, Dominguez stepped up to the plate with runners at second and third and hit a single that plated one runner.
Now on first base, Dominguez witnessed teammate and starting pitcher Danny Bustos score on a wild pitch and throwing error and advanced to third himself. On the same play, another bad throw enabled Dominguez to score on a play at the plate. He and Crescenta Valley’s catcher dove at the same time.
The umpire called Dominguez safe and the mercy rule went into effect.
In essence, Dominguez scored the winning run in the two most important games of the season for the Bulldogs.
At the same time, Gangi (22-8) lost back-to-back tough ones.
“The key is they’re very good, and they deserve to be champions,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Frank Gangi, whose team hadn’t lost two games in a row this season prior to the final two. “It wasn’t our day today.”
It was apparent from the first inning that Gangi was going to have trouble getting outs. The Bulldogs were one batter away from batting around in an inning that saw them score two early runs — one earned and one unearned.
Burbank’s Connor Lockheimer singled home leadoff hitter Tanner Whitlock for the game’s first run. Then, with two outs and the bases loaded, a botched force play at second enabled Lockheimer to score.
Crescenta Valley’s pitching relaxed enough thereafter, giving up one more run in the next two innings, but its offense never came around, partly due to Burbank’s strategy of walking Gangi’s most feared hitter.
“We wanted to isolate Will Lombardo, and contain him by not allowing him to hit,” Burbank assistant Robert Peres said. “Then it’s a team-on-team game.”
Lombardo, the leadoff hitter, walked in the first inning and third inning. His teammates didn’t make the Bulldogs pay either time.
Gangi sprayed just two balls into the outfield.
Bustos picked up the complete game win, striking out five in the championship game.
Overall, the Bulldogs carried over their momentum from the thrilling game the day before and shut out Gangi, but neither coach had his head down.
“We had a great run,” Gangi said.