ARCADIA — It took four extra innings to decide the victor in a key Pacific League baseball showdown between Burroughs High and host Arcadia on Tuesday.
While the Indians fought to keep their share of the league lead, the Apaches looked to draw even with them in the loss column as the second half of league action began.
"What matters is we've got to come out and win ball games," Burroughs Coach Kiel Holmes said. "Nobody is going to roll over and die in this league right now without a doubt, and we knew that going into the second half."
Burroughs had tied the score in the seventh to extend the game, but could not get a hit after that, leading to a thrilling finish as Arcadia executed an 11th-inning suicide squeeze to win, 4-3.
The loss drops Burroughs to 12-9, 6-2 in league, while Arcadia improves to 15-6-6-2. Both trail league-leading Burbank (12-7, 7-1), which defeated Hoover on Tuesday, 13-3.
Both teams had gone without a hit in the extra innings until Arcadia's Cameron Tuck led off the 11th with a sharply hit single to left field off of Burroughs reliever Daniel Barraza, who had taken over mound duties with two outs in the seventh. Tuck advanced to second on a wild pickoff attempt and then to third on a sacrifice bunt. Then, Apache Matt Morales successfully bunted the second pitch of his at-bat to the no-man's land between Barraza and the Indians' third baseman, allowing Tuck to score the game-winning run without a play.
"That is just good baseball. It's good execution," Holmes said of the game's final play. "It's one of those things that you know it's coming, but if you do it right you can't stop it. They did it right and we couldn't stop it."
The win went to lefty Jonathan Hopkins, who came on to pitch in the top of the eighth and held Burroughs scoreless and hitless through his four innings of work, striking out four, despite walking five.
Hopkins had walked the bases loaded with one out in the 10th inning, but escaped without harm. The senior struck out the next batter and then caught a screaming line drive off the bat of Jimmy Cramer to escape the jam and strand the three Indians standing on base. In total, Burroughs left 11 runners on base.
"This all comes down to runners left on base," Holmes said. "Some of it is bad luck. I mean, we had the bases loaded and two outs [in the 10th] and [if] that pitcher doesn't catch that line drive he's probably in the hospital ... We just couldn't get the hit when we needed to."
Burroughs rallied in the seventh inning to tie, after the home team had notched single runs off of Indian starter Luis Pereyra in the fifth and sixth innings to knot it and then take the lead for the first time. Cramer led off the frame with a single, which turned out to be the Indians' final hit of the game. Brandon Ortega came in to pinch run and scored three batters later when Miles Haddad grounded into a fielder's choice.
Both starting pitchers hit the first batters they faced and both saw that runner come around to score in the first inning. Apache hurler Austin Georgen hit Chris Davies in the side of the helmet. The senior scored four batters later on a double to left field by Brian Pozos. Pereyra's first pitch of the game hit Brandon Toy, who scored three pitches later on a single.
Burroughs scored again in the second inning by way of a RBI groundout by Aiden Anding. The sophomore's chopper to shortstop allowed Pereyra, who had led off with a single, to score from third; giving Burroughs a 2-1 advantage it held until the fifth.
"Ultimately, we didn't get the timely hit, but we played good baseball today," Holmes said. "It's probably one of the cleaner games we played in a while. It's just the ball didn't fall."
It was Arcadia's fifth straight win in the home confines of Giambrone Field against the Indians. It was also the second straight loss for Burroughs in Pacific League play. The Indians had been the final undefeated squad before the slide dramatically tightened the league race.