Life goes on in truncated Pacific League baseball

GLENDALE — Glendale High baseball Coach Jesus Osuna and his team spent their Monday afternoon practice session getting ready to play Burroughs High in a Pacific League game on Tuesday only to find out shortly after practice that the matchup would never take place.

Saying there were "bad decisions made," Burroughs Principal Emilio Urioste said Tuesday that he canceled the Indians' baseball season and fired the school's varsity baseball coach and his three assistants after discovering that one of them served players beer during a recent Arizona trip.

The Nitros, who held a practice Tuesday in lieu of their game, were the first of Burroughs' league mates to feel the direct effect of the abrupt cancelation of the remainder of Indians' season, but won't be the last. The six other league-member schools, which include local programs Crescenta Valley and Hoover, will all feel the repercussions during the remainder of league play, both in the subtraction of games from their schedules and in the impact the Indians' absence will have on the league championship and playoff chase.

"We try to take as many games as we can just to get us the preparation," said Osuna, whose team had not played Burroughs yet this season and was also scheduled to play the Indians on May 6. "We're almost halfway into the season and we had our practice geared towards preparing for [the Indians] and it's kind of unfortunate we're not going to be able to play them [Tuesday].

"It gives another spot for another team to make the playoffs, which if you're in the division, I guess, is a good thing, but I still think it's a bad thing just for our league because we always try to get as many games as we can and we look forward to playing every team at least twice."

The Indians, 6-8-1 and 3-2 in league with nine league contests remaining, were tied for third in league with Burbank heading into Tuesday's games. Arcadia led the pack at 5-0 going into Tuesday's tilt with Burbank with Crescenta Valley close behind at 5-1 and Pasadena in third at 4-2. Glendale (1-4) and Hoover (2-4) currently occupy the lower half of the standings, but could only see their chances of clinching one of the league's four automatic playoff spots improve with the departure of Burroughs.

"Our kids get cheated out of a league game, which is what you work for," said Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres, whose team beat the Indians, 10-0, on April 1 and was scheduled to face them again May 3. "It disrupts the integrity of the league schedule, but more importantly, I feel for the kids [at Burroughs] who didn't do anything wrong; I've got to assume there was at least some.

"I don't know enough of the specifics, but obviously Burroughs did the right thing if they thought something was wrong. It's just a shame because now it affects everyone in the Pacific League, not just Burroughs."

Indians Coach J.R. Schwer acknowledged that a large number of players were served alcohol by an assistant coach — whom he declined to name — but said he learned of the incident last week.

Urioste confirmed that 11 players who drank have been suspended from school for five days, effective Monday. Seven athletes who were aware of the incident, but who failed to report it, have been given two-day suspensions, the principal said. He declined to say how he learned about the incident.

"I feel bad for the other players because it just takes a couple of bad guys for something like this to happen and we all get affected," Osuna said. "I understand the reason why they [canceled the rest of the season], I just feel bad for the other guys.

"It is what it is and I'm sure they'll move on from that. Hopefully, that will teach everybody else there's nobody above baseball. There's rules that we have to all apply and let's just move on from there."

Hoover Coach Joe Cotti, whose team was yet to play Burroughs this season, said he was saddened by the situation and hopes his own team takes heed of the consequences.

"It's really sad to hear that it happened," said Cotti, who previously coached on the lower levels at Burroughs before heading to Hoover. "I talked to my kids about it today and it's about kids making choices and how the choices you make affect everybody. It affects me, it affects the league. That's two games we don't get to play, but I feel bad for the kids at Burroughs that were not involved in it and have to pay the penalty of not being able to play. That's the sad part of it."

Osuna, whose Nitros face Pasadena Friday, was able to find one benefit for his team as a result of the cancelation.

"The good thing for me is now I have all my pitching that I can throw on Friday," Osuna said. "Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage and get a win on Friday."

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