NORTHEAST GLENDALE — First the Burbank 10-11 Baseball All-Stars made it easier on pitcher Blake Traxel, scoring three runs in support of the right-hander before he even took the mound in Tuesday evening's District 16 championship game at Scholl Canyon Park.
Then Traxel simply made it look easy, holding Crescenta Valley's lineup in check over the next five innings of Burbank's 7-0 victory that propelled it into the Section 2 Tournament on Saturday.
"The pitching was there, we had timely hits, timely defense, it was an all-around great game," said Burbank Coach Thomas Magoon, whose team will open Section 2 play at 4 p.m. Saturday at Arcadia Little League against District 17-champion Sierra Madre. "We knew we were going to be ready. We had to come out and play a perfect game and we did."
Traxel (nine strikeouts) went five innings and allowed just three hits — all singles — while backed by a three-for-three day from Jacob Barrera (one run batted in, three runs scored) and three RBI from Gio Zamora, who doubled and tripled.
Barrera drove in the game's first run with a one-out double to left field in the top of the first that scored Carter Kessinger, who had singled. Zamora (two for three) followed with a two-run double.
Traxel retired the side in order in the first and second innings before getting another infusion of run support in the top of the third on a Barrera single, followed by Zamora's triple and finally a single up the middle by Brandon Giraldo (two for three) for a 5-0 lead.
Crescenta Valley, which would have forced an if-necessary title game today with a win, broke up the perfect game in the top of the third on Sean Park's single to right field. But even though Park was able to get to second base with one out on a wild pitch, the inning went nowhere, as Traxel struck out the side for the second time.
"We couldn't string hits together," Crescenta Valley Coach Tom Harbolt said. "But [Burbank] did a nice job."
Justin Chang, who entered the game in relief with two outs in the first inning, pinched a clean fourth for Crescenta Valley, which got another runner aboard in the bottom of the frame on a two-out single by Eli Weber. But once again, Traxel bore down and struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Barrera singled with one out in the top of the fifth, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a triple by Giraldo, who then scored on a single by Leo Carranza.
Crescenta Valley got a leadoff single from JD Schaefer to begin the bottom of the fifth, but after a strikeout for the first out, a hard-hit ground ball back to the mound ticked off Traxel's leg and straight to the shortstop for a tailor-made, inning-ending double play.
"He's got great control and he does a nice job," Harbolt said of Traxel. "He kept us off base. We got a few hits, but then that double play was great for them. I don't know if you can pitch much better."
When asked what his team will need to do to keep going in Section 2, Traxel's answer was simple: "Keep doing what we just did."