Walk-off hit wins it for Burbank

BURBANK HIGH — It's seldom that a game ends this way.

It's rare that such a scenario even presents itself at all.

There were two outs in the bottom of the seventh — and final — inning. The Burbank High baseball team managed a comeback rally against visiting Saugus, tying the game at 4 moments earlier.

The right-handed Harrison Hernandez, a junior third baseman, who fittingly wears No. 44, stepped into the batter's box for the Bulldogs, with runners on second and third. Hernandez worked Saugus pitcher, Dylan Freyre, to a 1-1 count.

The tension mounted as Freyre dealt and delivered a curveball. Hernandez waited on the pitch, swung the bat with might, and sent the ball into the net above the left-field fence. The hit, which was Hernandez' first walk-off effort, and first hit of the game, brought home teammate Dylan Mersola, propelling Burbank to a 5-4 win.

"Greatest moment of my life," Hernandez said, relishing the moment. "I live for those moments."

Burbank Coach Bob Hart added: "If you're confident, then your success ratio is going to sky rocket."

Hernandez rounded first base, made it to second, then was rushed by a mob of teammates leaping in celebration.

"I didn't necessarily think he'd hit it off the top of the net, but I felt like he's been hitting the ball hard," Hart said. "I was excited to see what happens. I like to put guys in those spots because you can kind of see what somebody's all about. They either pucker up and go away or stand up. He stood up."

With the climatic win, the Bulldogs improved to 4-0 in summer league play. The improvement comes on the heels of a 2011 regular season that ended with an 11-16 final record, and absence from the postseason playoffs.

"Our approach has really improved," Hart said. "We've beaten a couple of good teams — Hart and Saugus — which are both top-notch programs. [Saugus is] a well-coached team and a talented team. They've always been someone we aspired to be at some point. I'm not saying we're at their level, but I think we're going in that direction."

Burbank played in 13 one-run games this past season, losing 10 of them. The team is ushering in 10 new players during the summer.

"I think it just comes down to their ability to believe a little bit [and keeping] their emotions under control, then pulling them both in the same direction," Hart said. "It matters when you know that everyone's on the same page — less ego — more we, less me."

Hernandez said one of the areas of emphasis throughout the summer is building and refining the team's chemistry, which he believes lacked last season.

"We had really good talent last year, but we weren't really [together] as a team," he said. "We had a couple fights on the team, which brought us down. We got rid of those guys. This year, we're all brothers. It's one for all. I'll do anything for these guys."

Against Saugus (1-3), Burbank struck first with two runs in the bottom of the third inning. The Bulldog offense rolled with two outs, when Mersola hit a RBI-single to right-center field. Paul Frias added a RBI-double to left-center field, putting Burbank up, 2-0.

In the top of the fifth inning, Andru Cardenas got on base with a bunt single for Saugus. He advanced to third and later scored when Freyre hit a ground ball to third, but the throw to first was off.

J.T. Sorrentino singled up the middle in the bottom of the fifth inning, scoring Nate Zavala, giving the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead.

Saugus responded with three runs in the top of the sixth inning, taking a 4-3 lead, its first of the game.

The Centurions' Kyle Mark hit a RBI-single to left field and Spencer Daniels knocked in a run when he bunted and brought home Roy Verdejo. Pinch hitter Justin Donatella capped off the rally with another RBI-single, putting all the pressure on Burbank.

"I felt we were still in a decent spot," Hart said. "We had the heart of our lineup coming up. That really helped a lot. The guys have shown a willingness to put themselves on the line, even at the risk of failing."

Ricky Perez, who went two for three in the game and scored two runs, managed a leadoff single for Burbank in the bottom of the seventh.

Mersola finished two for two with two runs scored and a RBI. He drew a walk after Perez got on base, setting up Frias, who nailed a double to right field, tying the game.

"Paul Frias is a tremendous hitter, one of the best on our team," Hernandez said. "He was due and he came clutch."

Frias went two for four with two RBI.

John White pitched five innings for the Bulldogs, giving up three hits, three runs, two walks and striking out one.

Burbank pitcher Joe Bogenshultz went two innings, giving up two hits, a run and striking out one.

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