OLIVE PARK — The Burroughs High softball team definitely had more to lose in its cross-town rivalry game against Burbank.
A win against the Bulldogs would give the Indians a share of the Pacific League championship with Crescenta Valley.
For the Bulldogs, they already had the third-place spot in league locked up, and they were looking to play the role of spoiler.
What started out as a defensive struggle changed dramatically in the fourth inning when Burroughs’ Hailee White rocketed a grand slam that ended up being the difference in a 5-3 Indians’ win at Olive Park.
The victory gave Burroughs (19-7, 13-1 in league) a share of the title with the Falcons (21-3, 13-1). It was the Indians’ second straight championship after winning the crown outright in 2010.
“The girls really wanted to win their second straight league championship,” Burroughs first-year Coach Doug Nicol said. “That was something that was very important to them.”
Burbank (12-13, 10-4), which pushed the Indians to extra innings in the teams’ first meeting of the year last month, fell behind, 5-0, heading into the seventh inning. But the Bulldogs mounted a comeback attempt that yielded three runs in the final frame.
“These girls could have given up and just went home with a 5-0 loss, but they fought back and they really worked for those three runs in the seventh,” Burbank Coach Nicole Drabecki said. “I am so extremely proud of this team. They showed me a lot with the way they fought back.”
White, the Indians’ third baseman, definitely had the hit of the night. After teammate Sidney Ortega singled to lead off the bottom of the fourth inning, Taylor Buliavac was hit by a pitch and Haley Schulman reached first on an error to load the bases. With a 2-1 count and the Burbank infield playing in, White powered a Crystal Diaz pitch into the gap between first and second base.
When the Bulldogs were finally able to retrieve the ball, the bases had cleared and White had a grand slam.
“I told Hailee if [the Burbank pitcher] makes a mistake, you go out and get it,” Nicol said. “She is a real gap hitter, and with the infield in, that was a perfect opportunity for her. That was a very big hit from her.”
The Indians tacked on a single run in the fifth inning when Shannon Trujillo singled and scored on a triple to centerfield by Buliavac.
Heather Haynes and Allie Grimaldo had singles for Burroughs.
The Bulldogs began their rally in the seventh when Nalani Hernandez tripled to left field to start the frame. Hernandez was three for three with two triples. Tiffany Pisa doubled Hernandez home and scored on a home run to right-center field by Katie Hooper.
“We have a young team, and we’re only losing three seniors,” Drabecki said. “So, the majority of these players will be back next year.”
Hooper was two for four with two runs batted in and Liana Do and Ashley Russo had base hits for Burbank.
It was a defensive struggle for the first three-and-a-half innings, as both sides had their share of fine plays in the field.
However, the most spectacular play was turned in by Santos in center field in the fourth. Sarah Riojas powered a sinking line drive into centerfield. The ball appeared to be dropping in for a hit, but Santos came sprinting across, and at the precise moment, left her feet and dove horizontally, nabbing the liner safely in her glove.
“I have seen some catches that were as good as that over the years,” Nicol said. “But in that situation, in a 0-0 game between Burroughs and Burbank, that might be one of the best catches in the history of the rivalry,”
Both the Indians and Bulldogs are in the CIF Southern Section playoffs. The pairings will be released Sunday and the first round will take place next week.
“We are really looking forward to the playoffs, and we’re excited,” Drabecki said. “We think that we can win one, or even a few, games in the playoffs. We look forward to seeing what we can do in CIF.”