NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Burbank Heart Breakers Coach Richard Escamilla had been waiting for his offense to get going.
Going into the fourth inning of a tie ballgame with the Tujunga Hot Shots in the semifinals of the Tri-Cities Minor Softball Tournament, Escamilla got his wish and then some at just the right time.
The Heart Breakers' 13 batters in the inning untied the ballgame, scored their insurance runs and put the game away, tallying a total of eight runs in the fourth on their way to a 17-4 victory that put them into the finals Tuesday.
"We came out flat in our last game, and have been waiting for our bats to come out," said Escamilla, who will face a Crescenta Valley squad in the championship game, scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday night. "I'm glad they showed up in that inning."
Burbank received efficient defense and solid pitching, giving up its four runs all in the first inning, then settled down, giving up just one hit the rest of the way after Tujunga took the 4-3 lead.
The Heart Breakers, on the other hand, scored in every inning, but the second. Katelynn Monterrey's two-run triple in the first inning fueled an early 3-0 advantage.
Then, trailing by one run in the third inning, Burbank's Mia Storer scored from third base on a wild pitch.
Burbank starting pitcher Kaitlin Escamilla kept Tujunga's bats at bay, giving up three hits on two earned runs while striking out five batters before giving the ball to Carley Gay to work with a 12-4 lead.
Gay was instrumental in the eight-run inning. With runners on second and third, her home run increased Burbank's lead to 8-4. Moments earlier, Ariana Farias came home on a wild pitch to break the tie with Gay in the batter's box and the bases loaded.
"I wasn't sure what the fielder was going to do so I was stuck there [between second and third], but then I ran home," said Gay of her shot to center that was misplayed by the center fielder.
With the bases loaded again later in the inning, Megan Sawyer connected on a double that cleared the bases, plating Escamilla, Storer and Monterrey.
For good measure, the Heart Breakers added five more runs in the fifth.
Escamilla's triple brought in Gay, who led off the inning with an infield single. Escamilla tried to score but was tagged out home. Paige Mejia hit the team's second triple, scoring two. Mejia came all the way around on a throwing error for the team's final run of the game.
In her two innings of relief work, Gay struck out three with no walks and no hits. At the plate, the leadoff hitter went three for four with three RBIs and three runs scored.
"It was an elimination game, so we came out tense, throwing the ball all over the place on defense," Escamilla said. "Once we settled down and calmed down, we were good.
"I have a lot of confidence in my pitching staff," he said of the combined three-hit day.