GLENDALE — In a Pacific League baseball race predicted by many to be anybody's for the taking, Burroughs High emerged on Tuesday night with the top spot all to itself.
And it did so at the expense of the reigning league champion, as the Indians took an 8-7 win away from Stengel Field and host Crescenta Valley in the teams' first-place showdown.
"This one was just back and forth," said Burroughs senior co-captain Miles Haddad, who went three for five with two runs scored, two runs batted in, a stolen base and got the win on the mound despite never throwing a pitch. "I think this one puts our name out there.
"Anyone can beat anyone in the league definitely, but these games [against Crescenta Valley] are really important."
Heading into Tuesday, Crescenta Valley (11-6, 3-1 in league), which had its six-game winning streak ended, and Burroughs (10-7, 4-0) had emerged as the last two league undefeateds. The Indians emerged victorious after a game that was equal parts ugly and dramatic and concluded after three hours and 10 minutes.
"Just ugly pitching," said Falcons Coach Phil Torres of his team's performance on the mound, which saw seven walks, three hit batters and five wild pitches. "It's disappointing.
"I think [league's] up in the air. [The Indians] did a good job, they came in here and got a win."
Having jumped out to a 3-0 lead after the top of the second, Burroughs was caught at 3 by the Falcons and again at 5 when Crescenta Valley rallied in the bottom of the fifth. The game came down to the seventh, as the Indians rallied for three, thanks to Haddad's go-ahead single that scored Aiden Anding and a two-run single by Cameron Rodriguez that plated Chris Davies and Haddad. All the Burroughs carnage came with two outs after the first two Indians of the stanza were retired.
"This is a really strong group that we have," said Burroughs Coach Kiel Holmes. "It just really shows the type of character we have."
The Falcons didn't go away, though, as pinch-hitter Brett Klein roped a two-out double on the first pitch he saw to score Johnny Psaltis and Nolan Rea (two for two, walk, hit by pitch, two runs, stolen base) in the bottom of the seventh. But that was as close as the Falcons could get.
"Our offense did everything to get us back in the game, right 'til the end," Torres said.
But it was perhaps the sixth-inning rally that never was that loomed largest for Crescenta Valley.
With the score tied at 5, Ted Boeke (three for four, two RBI) hit his second double of the night, which was followed by a Bryan Wang single. After the second out was recorded, Haddad was brought in. Before he threw a pitch, he picked Boeke off of third, leading to the unconventional win for Haddad.
Burroughs opened up the game with two runs in the top of the first and brought its lead to 3-0, before a three-run second from CV that saw a scary moment in which Burroughs shortstop Brian Pozos dived for a chopper that hit the second-base bag and then hit Pozos in the face. After a brief delay, Pozos (three for four, two RBI, run, stolen base, hit by pitch) returned to the game, but CV tied it after a run-scoring Nick Diaz single and a two-run double by Boeke.
Burroughs took the lead right back in the third without a hit on a hit batter, walk, sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch and Pozos pushed the lead to 5-3 in the fourth when he scored Noah Hoed on a perfect squeeze bunt.
Michael Russo scored on a wild pitch in the fifth when the pitcher dropped the ball at home plate and Rea stole home on a double steal later in the inning when the catcher dropped the ball, as well.
At the end of the chaos, though, the Falcons were left looking to regroup, while the Indians were left atop the standings.
"We just gotta turn the page," Torres said, "and play."
Said Holmes: "It puts us at the top of the standings and any time you can go out and get a win against CV, it's big. … It feels good, but we know that ultimately it comes down to one game and we have a lot of games left."