GLENDALE — Led by Jorge Gutierrez on the mound and complemented well by a potent offense, the Burbank Cardinals were able to win the District 16 Minor Tournament of Champions title in convincing fashion over Foothill Montrose Travel on Wednesday.
Gutierrez struck out 12 batters and hit two doubles and a triple as the No. 3 hitter of an offense that compiled 10 hits en route to a 7-1 victory at Babe Herman Field.
“They came to play,” said Cardinals Coach Ben Estrada, whose team allowed just four hits in the title-clinching win. “They’re a united team. We had a player separated from us during the regular season, so they really wanted this.”
The Burbank offense provided its pitcher with a lead before the hurler threw any pitches. Eric Serna’s lead-off single would incite a three-run inning for the Cardinals. Luis Mendez picked up the only other hit for Burbank in the inning, scoring Joseph Estrada — the first of three RBIs on the day for the slugger.
Foothill starting pitcher Zando Arzoumanian needed 30 pitches to get out of the inning, but settled down to pitch 4 2/3 innings and keep his squad within striking distance.
Gutierrez took advantage of the early lead and was comfortable enough to go after Foothill’s offense with strikes. The strategy proved effective, as he recorded at least two strikeouts in each of the first five innings, including striking out the side in the second and fourth.
“Toughest pitcher we’ve faced all year,” Montrose Travel Coach Mike Perez said. “You just have to tip your cap, he had it going today. We couldn’t catch up to him and we couldn’t overcome it.”
Gutierrez and Mendez lined consecutive triples to start the third inning. Mendez’ second run batted in scored Gutierrez and a grounder from Luice Jolley plated Mendez and extended Burbank’s lead to 5-0.
Serna sprayed his second hit of the game, leading off the fourth inning with a double, and was able to score on Joseph Estrada’s single. With Estrada on third base, Mendez hit a fly ball deep enough for Estrada to tag up and give the Cardinals their seventh run.
Foothill’s Julius Dawoodtabar belted a double to score Josh Malone and put Montrose Travel on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. Malone had reached second base on an error.
The momentum wouldn’t be sustained, however, as Gutierrez struck out the next two batters, and Burbank was able to hold the Foothill offense to a pair of infield hits the rest of the way to secure its lead and the victory.
Both Arzoumanian and Gutierrez were relieved for Sam Guzik and Serna, respectively, after exceeding the 75-pitch limit, and both recorded at least one hit at the plate.
Guzik faced four batters, not allowing a run. Serna took the ball with one out in the sixth and struck out two batters to close it out.
Gutierrez led all batters with three hits. Serna and Mendez also finished with multi-hit games.
“Our offense was great,” Estrada said. “We have some special kids over here.”
“We were in the semis last year, we stayed together and continued to improve,” Perez said. “Next year, hopefully, we win the title.”