MONTROSE — Three and a half innings of near equal baseball gave way to a one-sided slugfest.
Unfortunately for the Burbank Major All-Stars baseball team, the visitors were on the wrong side of the blitz, as Sherman Oaks scored five runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, powered by three home runs, en route to delivering an 8-0 victory in Tuesday evening's Section 2 Tournament championship game at Montrose Community Park.
With the win, Sherman Oaks earned advancement to Friday's Division III North Tournament first round, while District 16 champion Burbank is halted in a familiar position.
"This is the third year in a row we've reached this tournament and we couldn't get past it," said Burbank Manager Giovanni Zamora, whose team's other sectional defeat was an 11-5 loss to Sherman Oaks on Sunday. "Sherman Oaks' pitcher [Noah Taylor] was on today and we couldn't hit."
The aforementioned Taylor tossed a one-hitter over 5 2/3 innings, while fanning nine batters and only walking one in the win.
"This was probably our best overall pitching performance of any tournament," Sherman Oaks Manager Chris Dollard said. "Burbank certainly is a good team, but we got a great effort from Noah and we finally broke through in the fourth."
Burbank pitcher Blaine Traxel certainly matched Taylor through three innings, allowing only one hit while fanning five.
Yet, within an instant, Sherman Oaks' bats came alive.
First baseman Stephen Richardson broke the ice in the fourth when he roped a first-pitch fastball for a solo homer that cleared the right-field wall by at least 20 feet and gave Sherman Oaks a 1-0 lead.
The homer was the first of four extra-base hits in the inning for Sherman Oaks, as Nick Martin and Wyatt Kleinberg, who were both inserted into the game a half inning earlier, each connected on two-run blasts. The inning's other rocket came on a double down the third-base line from Jake Robbins, who scored on Martin's homer.
The barrage put Sherman Oaks up for good, 5-0.
"We didn't hit at all today and they put together a really big fourth inning that changed the game," Burbank assistant Thomas Magoon said. "Sherman Oaks is a really good team and really tough to beat."
Burbank didn't help its cause in the fifth, as Sherman Oaks plated three additional runs via two wild pitches, a passed ball and one throwing error.
Burbank's best opportunity to score came in the fifth when Carter Kessinger walked with one out, advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a grounder from Bryan Oasay.
With two outs, Kessinger attempted to score on a wild pitch from Taylor and was called out at the plate after a last-ditch swipe tag from catcher Sammy Tufeld.
The call didn't sit well with Magoon, who tossed his hat in the direction of the Burbank dugout after the out and was immediately ejected.
"He was safe and that was a bad call and when the umpires take away a run from us on a bad call, I'm going to let them know," Magoon said. "I didn't say anything to them, I just threw my hat and I was thrown out. It was a matter of pride and at that point we wanted to score a run."
The game ended an inning later, as Taylor missed a no-hitter with two outs in the sixth when Burbank leadoff hitter Max Meltzer singled off the glove of first baseman Stephen Richardson.
After Meltzer's hit, Taylor was pulled in favor of Tyler Cox, who coaxed a flyout to right to end the game.
"Hey, I tip my cap to Sherman Oaks. They're a great team and it's an honor to get this far," said Magoon, who was also aided by bench coach Cameron Kessinger. "I'm proud of what our team was able to do."