BURBANK — The Burbank High baseball program was definitely headed in the right direction when it captured its first league championship in 22 years this past season.
However, the Bulldogs graduated 16 seniors, and if the winning is to continue, Burbank is going to have to do that with a crop of fresh faces next season.
Some of those young players are getting the chance to gain some much-needed experience playing in the Valley Invitational Baseball League.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, when they took on the Cleveland Rojos on Friday evening in a VIBL game, four players were missing.
Not having those players, along with its youth, turned out to be too much for Burbank to overcome, as it fell, 13-0, at home.
"It's really easy to be negative in a situation like this when we have a bad loss," said Burbank Coach Bob Hart, whose team won a share of the Pacific League championship during the 2013 season. "For me, I look at it as baby steps. We are going to get a lot better, the guys are going to work hard and we're going to get there.
"Coaching is about making the best of what you have and I think playing to some degree is about that too."
Burbank couldn't get much going on offense, as it was limited to just three hits. In contrast, the Rojos scored their 13 runs on 10 hits.
Two of the Bulldogs' three hits came from shortstop Randy Higgens.
"I felt pretty good at the plate today," said Higgens, who was two for three with a double. "But I don't think we did that well as a team."
The Bulldogs' defense did well at times. In fact, the Bulldogs were able to turn two double plays.
The first double play helped Burbank get out of a jam in the first inning. With two on and one out, third baseman Anden Palmisino started a nifty 5-6-3 double play that got the Bulldogs out of the inning.
But Cleveland threatened again in the second inning and this time the Bulldogs weren't able to escape unscathed. The Rojos had two hits and pushed across three runs in the second to jump out to a 3-0 lead.
"I don't think that they were that good of a squad," Hart said of Cleveland. "They had a good pitcher, but they lost a lot of talent from last season's team."
The Bulldogs turned a 6-4-3 double play in the third inning to turn back the Rojos.
Burbank's best opportunity to score came in the fourth inning when Higgens led off the frame with a double to right field. But the Bulldogs would leave him stranded following consecutive strikeouts and a popout.
Cleveland took advantage of just two hits to score three more runs in the fifth inning to take a 6-0 advantage.
The Burbank pitching then began to waver in the sixth inning. The Rojos brought 11 players to the plate and tallied seven runs to take a commanding 13-0 advantage.
"We just want to see a little more fire from the guys. But that will come with success," Hart said.
Alex Minnick had the other hit for Burbank.