GLENDALE — Behind a solid pitching performance and timely hitting that complemented good base running, the Burbank 9-10 All-Stars set themselves up for a rematch against a team who looked to be their superior just two days prior.
With the 12-2 win over Vaquero in the District 16 Tournament on Monday at Babe Herman Field, Burbank will again face an undefeated Crescenta Valley squad at 5 p.m. today at the same venue.
“I’ll be honest, it’s going to be tough,” said Burbank Coach Tony Castiglioni, whose team lost to Crescenta Valley, 19-2, on Sunday. “Those kids have played against older players in the Majors. I think I only have one kid who’s played in the Majors.”
Castiglioni added that despite the lack of experience with his squad, he feels anything can happen in a championship game, and his team is up for a fight.
Burbank starting pitcher Bryce Whitaker did his part in keeping his team’s season alive as he allowed just two hits and struck out six in four innings before reaching the maximum 75-pitch count.
Vaquero was held scoreless until the fifth inning when they were able to take advantage of three walks issued by Burbank’s pitcher Jaden Riez. A sacrifice fly from Nate Rangel with the bases loaded put Vaquero on the scoreboard for its first run. Jacob Romero’s single to plate Nate Estrella was the team’s third and final hit of the game, as well as the only other run.
The rally was short-lived, as Burbank would strike back and prevent Vaquero from enjoying another inning at the plate.
Leading 8-2, Burbank scored four in the bottom of the fifth inning, which including a Ricky Perez single that scored Alex Giraldo and Alberto Ayala to bring the 10-run mercy rule into effect.
“Their morale got down, they thought it was over,” Vaquero Coach Luis Cejudo said. “Five games in five days — that’s a lot of work for these kids. I’m proud of them, though, they fought back.”
Cejudo had to pull his starter, Omar Hernandez, in the second inning after two unearned runs gave Burbank a 4-0 advantage. Hernandez had given up just two hits, but also surrendered four walks. Wild pitches, passed balls and good base running from Burbank ultimately were too much to overcome early in the game.
Burbank scored four more runs in the inning off Jacob Romero, highlighted by a two-run double from Ryan King who scored on a Whitaker triple.
Whitaker went two for three with a single and a run scored in the fifth.
“Bryce was great,” Castiglioni said of his starting pitcher. “He’s a kid when he’s on, he’s tough to beat.”
Ayala also had two hits for Burbank, who will look for similar offensive output against Crescenta Valley.