Burbank baseball downed by another tough opponent

BURBANK — The schedule hasn't exactly been easy for the Burbank High baseball team so far this season.

Over a span of eight days, the Bulldogs have already faced Loyola and Hart — No. 1 and No. 7, respectively, in the latest CIF Southern Section Division I poll — and welcomed another tough Division I opponent Tuesday afternoon in Westlake.

As was the case with the two ranked squads, the Bulldogs suffered another loss in Easton Tournament, this time by a score of 10-5 to the Warriors, who tallied 15 hits and led by as many as seven runs.

"It gives us a sense of who we really are rather than some false bravado and a record that's really not what it seems," Burbank Coach Bob Hart said of his team's challenging slate. "We want to put 'em up against the best we can and get ourselves ready for league. That's our focus."

Since a 2-1 victory over Dos Pueblos in their opener March 4, the Bulldogs (1-3) have dropped three consecutive games.

Westlake (2-2) grabbed an early one-run lead over Burbank in the second inning Tuesday when first baseman Blake Robbins doubled to center field, scoring catcher Bryce Vitt.

The Warriors then put the Bulldogs in a tough position in the third after a two-out, five-run rally that got started when Vitt lined a shot to left field to bring in runners from third and second.

Then Grant Ferguson doubled off the left-field wall to score Vitt, Robbins doubled to score Ferguson and McMillen doubled to score Robbins.

"They hit the ball around, basically," Hart said. "It wasn't so much us kicking it as them hitting the ball around. They're a good hitting team."

Bulldogs' starting pitcher Randy Higgens was eventually pulled after four innings after surrendering nine runs.

Down, 9-2, in the bottom of the fifth inning, Burbank still battled back. Shortstop Cameron Briggs scored on a sacrifice fly from freshman first baseman Danny Porras. Then, freshman center fielder Andy Reyes lined a double down the left-field line to bring in Ryan Porras, who had singled earlier in the inning.

"He was throwing outside, so coming up, I had a plan to get up on the plate and if he came inside I'd pull it," Reyes said. "And he did and I got to second."

But Reyes kept running. After a late throw home, he reached third base, and an overthrow allowed him to head home.

"We try to key on that, because when we're down, we still need to keep pushing," Reyes added. "And even if we're up, we still need to push it too. Because last game [against Hart] we were up and we didn't keep going. We sped off a little bit and they came back."

The rally brought the Bulldogs to within four runs.

"I liked our resiliency," Hart said. "And that we came back."

Westlake added another run in the top half of the seventh inning before Danny Porras, who replaced Higgens on the mound, struck out Robbins.

"That's a strong team," Hart said. "And we have to play more of our A-ball to compete with them. Our pitching has been outstanding all year, but we struggled a little bit early."

Burbank will play at Quartz Hill on Thursday in another Easton Tournament game.

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