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Championship bid falls short

Down to their final at bat, they had hope.

Down to their final out, they continued to battle.

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Down to their last strike, they weren’t about to give up.

Down by four runs in the final inning of the 2010 Little League Softball World Series championship game against a Southeast team from Warner Robbins, Ga., the players of the Burbank Major All-Stars embarked on a spirited comeback attempt.

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The locals were able to whittle the lead down to two, and brought the tying run to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. However, the attempt fell short, and Burbank went down to an 8-6 defeat Wednesday at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland, Ore.

“The girls really battled, and they were in there trying their hardest up until that last out,” Burbank Manager Bruce Del Castillo said of the game that was broadcast live on ESPN2. “I’m very proud of them and what they have been able to accomplish this season. It’s been a great year.”

It was the first time in the nine-year history of the Burbank Little League that a team from the organization advanced to the World Series. The Burbank 12-and-under squad, which represented the West, went further than any team in area history.

“The loss is kind of bitter-sweet for the girls,” Del Castillo said. “They are very disappointed that that lost the championship and they didn’t win the World Series. But they also realize how far they have come this season, and even just getting to the World Series is a huge accomplishment.”

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Along with making it to the championship, Burbank also enjoyed another first when it captured the Western Region Tournament title earlier this month. In addition, the Lady Legends also won Section 2 and District 16 championships.

Burbank realized it would have a tough challenge against Georgia, which was not only undefeated coming into the title game, but had yet to surrender a single run in the tournament. The team was also attempting to win its second straight World Series crown.

Southwest did receive solid pitching and its hitters did well at the plate, but it was the team’s defense that kept it in the game. Georgia fielders made three fine defensive plays that probably cost Burbank five runs.

Burbank didn’t help itself in the early going, as it surrendered four runs in the top of the first inning.

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“We made some mistakes early in the game,” Del Castillo said. “We got jumpy a little bit, being the championship game and all. That got to them a little bit, and they really didn’t play their best.”

Burbank pitchers gave up five walks in the first inning, including four passes to the first five batters. Southwest also had a single in the inning to account for four runs on just one hit.

Burbank gave up eight walks in the game.

The locals were kept off the board in the first inning on a good defensive play. With two runners on, Michelle Santiago lifted a shot to deep left field. However, Georgia’s Peyton Stallworth went back and snagged the ball.

The locals battled back in the second inning, however. Bridgette Pisa walked and Lili Flores singled to right field. Both runners scored on a triple to the right-field fence by Tori Talaveria.

Burbank looked to close the 4-2 deficit later in the inning after Jade Teetsel walked and took second on fielder’s indifference. With runners on second and third, Kaitlin Okimoto drove a ball to center field. Just as the ball was dropping in, Georgia’s Amber Coy left her feet and made a diving catch to record the out.

The Southwest offense continued to put pressure on Burbank, pushing across one run in the fourth inning and three more in the top of the fifth to increase the lead to 8-2.

“When it got to the fourth inning and we were still down, we realized that we were going to have to start coming back,” Del Castillo said. “They finally started to settle down and they started playing a lot better, including our pitchers.”

The locals again scratched for runs in their half of the fifth. Teetsel walked — she was one for one with a double, four walks and two runs scored — and Okimoto also reached base on a walk. Teetsel scored from second base on a foul out to first base and Okimoto came around on a run-scoring single by pinch hitter Ashton Akins.

In the bottom of the sixth, Burbank made two quick outs. However, Delaney Nicol got a rally started with a walk. That was followed by a double by Teetsel, and the locals were in business. Then, on a 3-2 count, Okimoto powered a single to left field that plated Nicol and Teetsel.

Unfortunately for the locals, the rally — and the comeback attempt — was halted when Davina Del Castillo, who represented the tying run, was called out on strikes.

“At the end of the day, our players played the best that they could, and I can’t be disappointed with that,” Bruce Del Castillo said. “They fought hard, and they fought long, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Santiago also had a single, as Burbank was able to garner six hits.


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