Glendale — An experienced Burbank squad showed just that in its first game of the Section 2 tournament Saturday evening at Montrose Park.
The District 16 Major Baseball champions showed poise, were never phased in a see-saw affair and were able to hold off a gritty East Altadena team to prevail, 11-6, in the double-elimination tournament.
“They got in on us, but we showed a lot of heart,” said Burbank Coach Thomas Magoon, whose team never trailed in the tightly-contested ballgame. “Timely hitting—[Ricky] Perez and [Joe] Metcalf hit home runs for us, and we put the bat on the ball.”
A potent Burbank offense connected on 10 hits—three from clean-up hitter Jacob Barrera, who also drove in three runs.
“We’re a tough, experienced team,” said Barrera, whose hits were all doubles. “We’ve been together for five years.”
Barrera’s two-run double in the second inning capped off a four-run frame for Burbank, who led 5-0 after two innings and gave starting pitcher Carter Kessinger a relatively comfortable lead.
“Short, compact swings,” Barrera said when asked about his approach at the plate. He would also steal a base in the fourth inning.
Kessinger cruised through two innings, striking out four and allowing just two hits. With his pitch count in mind, however, and aspirations of a deep run in the tournament, Magoon needed to make a change.
East Altadena took advantage to score five runs on two outs in the third and tied the score at 5. Burbank’s defense didn’t help relief pitchers Perez and Giorvanni Zamora by committing two costly errors in the frame before the five-run rule took effect after a two-run double from Reese Turknette.
Burbank didn’t falter and answered with two runs in the fourth, highlighted by Zamora’s sharply hit single back to East Altadena’s starting pitcher Aidan Schraeder. It was Schraeder’s 86th and final pitch, as the ball hit him in the thigh and resulted in an injury timeout.
“We had one bad inning,” Magoon said. “We made a bunch of errors and let them back in, but we rebounded to score two more runs.”
With Burbank clinging to a 7-5 lead, Perez lined up a Casey Popham pitch and sent it over the fence in center field for a solo home run. Kessinger’s single and Barrera’s double on subsequent at-bats threatened a big inning, but Popham was able to register the third out.
East Altadena got the run back on a Kento De Napoli run-scoring groundout to cut the Burbank lead to 8-6.
Then in the sixth inning, Metcalf put the game away with a three-run home run. It would be more than enough for Meltzer to close his second consecutive game after he was called to save the championship game against Crescenta Valley last Thursday.
“I had to take Carter out because of the pitch count rules, he may have not been allowed to pitch for the rest of the tournament,” Magoon said. “Zamora shut them down and Max closed it.”
Zamora was solid in two innings of work, giving up two earned runs on three hits.
Burbank will play in the winner’s bracket, Sunday at 6 p.m. at Montrose Park.