BURBANK — In the midst of a two-game skid, the Burroughs High baseball team likely couldn't afford another loss if it hoped to stay in the thick of things among the Pacific League frontrunners.
That made Friday afternoon's league matchup against visiting Pasadena an important contest for the Indians.
Burroughs was able to respond, taking advantage of Pasadena pitching problems and receiving a solid performance from starting pitcher Miles Haddad to notch a 6-4 victory.
Burroughs (13-9, 7-2 in league) and Crescenta Valley (15-7, 7-2) — which defeated Hoover, 11-1, on Friday — still trail league-leading Burbank (13-9, 8-1), which got by Glendale, 8-0, on Friday.
"At this point in the season, a lot of teams have a chance and are in the hunt, so everybody's scraping and clawing for the wins," Burroughs Coach Kiel Holmes said. "I think if you're in the top five in league right now you have a shot at winning it. That means that every game you have to bring it and you can't let up against anybody."
While the Indians are trying to stay in contention to capture their first league championship since 1997 — when they were members of the Foothill League — the Bulldogs (11-10, 4-5) are just trying to stay alive in the race for an automatic playoff spot.
"Next week is going to be important for us," Pasadena Coach Mike Parisi said. "We have three games and we have to win two of those three games to still be in it. There is still a chance that we can be one of that group in league.
"It's been a frustrating season for us. Some guys want it and are working their butts off and other guys don't want it. We just have to find a way to do it over these last few games."
A group of four Pasadena pitchers had a difficult time keeping the Burroughs batters in check Friday. The Bulldogs hurlers combined to issue seven walks and hit four Burroughs batters.
"Eleven free passes with either walks or hit batters?," Parisi said. "There's no way you're going to win when you do that."
While the Bulldogs pitchers struggled, Haddad turned in a steady performance for the Indians. The side-arm-throwing right-hander went six innings, giving up three runs and seven hits while striking out three.
Haddad also took his lumps on the day, but not on the mound. During one at-bat, he took a foul tip off his left hand and during another trip to the plate he was hit on the same hand.
Despite the injuries, both of which caused Haddad to fall to the dirt in obvious pain, the hurler said he never thought about leaving the game.
"No, especially when you're in a game like this," said Haddad, who also had a run-scoring double on the day. "I will probably feel it tomorrow, but I wanted to stay in there and finish up what I had to do."
Neither team was able to mount much offense until the bottom of the third inning, when Burroughs opened the scoring with two runs. Aiden Anding opened the inning with a single to center field and scored when Haddad roped a double just inside the foul line in left field. Unfortunately for the Indians, Haddad was doubled off second.
Luis Pereyra followed with a single to left, but was erased when he was gunned down trying to steal second. Brian Pozos followed with a double in the left-center field gap and was able to score when a hard-hit shot to second by Cameron Rodriguez was mishandled.
Burroughs increased its lead to 4-0 in the fifth when two Pasadena pitchers gave up one hit, three walks and hit a batter.
"We had some bad luck in the early innings and ran ourselves out of a couple of runs that we could have put up," Holmes said. "But the boys did exactly what I asked them to do, and they have done a good job at trusting the coaching staff and what we're trying to do."
Pereyra was two for three with a run scored, Jimmy Cramer was one for two with two walks and a run batted in and Pozos and Rodriguez drove in runs for Burroughs.
The Bulldogs were finally able to get on the board in the sixth inning when Haddad struggled a bit. Alex Baer singled, Andrew Lathouwers reached base on a fielder's choice and Daniel Richman walked to load the bases. All three scored when Brian Blackburn emptied the bases with a triple to the left-center field gap.
Burroughs tacked on two more runs in the sixth without a hit on sacrifice flies by Pozos and Rodriguez.
Down, 6-3, Pasadena kept fighting in the seventh inning and actually brought the tying run to the plate against reliever Daniel Barraza. With one out, Frankie Garriola (two for four with a run) singled through the left side and scored on a double to left by Baer (two for four with an RBI). The next batter, Sumner Smith (two for four) laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Garriola to third. However, Barraza got out of the jam with a strikeout.
Blackburn was two for three with a triple and three RBI.