NORTHWEST GLENDALE — When the Hoover High baseball team defeated Burroughs back in late March, it marked the beginning of a two-game skid that dropped the Indians under .500 in the Pacific League.
With that loss far behind it, Burroughs entered Tuesday’s rematch as the hottest team in the league, having won five straight league games to claw back into a tie for second place.
With Juan Aguirre’s bases-loaded walk-off single through a drawn-in infield in the bottom of the seventh, however, the Tornadoes were able to sting the Indians with another big defeat, 10-9, to sweep the season series and pull into a tie for third place with Burroughs.
“It was the kind of situation where it seemed for a while that no one wanted to win the game,” Hoover Coach Jim Delzell said of the back-and-forth contest which saw three lead changes and two ties over the final three innings and featured a host of game-changing errors to go along with big hits. “We made a lot of mistakes, but they did too.
“I just give our kids credit for battling for seven innings and not putting their heads down.”
After letting a 5-2 lead get away in the fifth inning, Burroughs was able to tie the game up twice, including once with two outs in the top of the seventh inning.
But the Tornadoes (10-5, 6-3 in league) staged a two-out rally of their own in the bottom of the seventh behind two hit batters and a full-count walk to set up Aguirre’s game-winner.
“We played ugly today and I’m very disappointed in that,” Burroughs Coach Tom Crowther said. “We wanted to avenge the fact that they beat us at home last time and we came into their place and were unable to do it. We had a lot of chances early and didn’t take advantage of things.
“We talked about how important this game was — the most important game we’ve had. When you’re on a win streak like that, every game’s important to try and keep that thing going.”
Hoover began its comeback down 5-2 with a one-out run-scoring double by Bobby Romero, which came on the heels of a bobbled potential double-play ball hit by Aguirre.
Two batters later, Sako Chapjian walked on four pitches with the bases loaded to plate Aguirre and draw to within 5-4.
Tyler Delzell followed with a shot over the fence in left field off of Indians reliever Nick Bozeman for an 8-5 lead.
“It was a turning point,” Delzell said of his grand slam. “It built our momentum and made us play better.”
While it certainly was a momentum changer, it was far from the final word.
Behind a single from A.J. Dupre and an infield throwing error that allowed Ray Palafox to reach base, Burroughs (10-10, 6-3) was quickly back in business. Turnabout was fair play, as Bozeman connected on a three-run home run that followed a near-identical trajectory to Delzell’s.
“We go up, 8-5, and it’s kind of comfortable because there’s only a couple of innings left, but they come right back,” Coach Delzell said. “To be honest, I was never really comfortable in a game like this until you get that third out.”
Hoover starter Jason Ochart (three for three with two runs scored and a run batted in), who pitched a complete game for the win, singled in a go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth, but Dupre extended the game with his own two-out run-scoring single in the top of the seventh.
Romero went two for two with an RBI and a run, while Johnny Barcena went two for four with a run scored.
GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.