GLENDALE — After falling into a six-run hole, the Vaquero All-Stars created hope for an improbable comeback when they clawed within three runs of Burbank-Tujunga in a first-round game of the District 16 All-Star 10-11 baseball tournament Friday night.
Burbank-Tujunga saved its best for an answer in the bottom of the fourth inning when it became a close game. It exploded for four runs on four hits and a leadoff intentional walk to pad its lead and dash the Vaquero comeback attempt for a 12-4 win at Montrose Community Park.
Despite Vaquero cutting its six-run deficit in half, Burbank-Tujunga Coach Tony Castiglioni was never too worried.
"Our kids swing the bat really well, so I knew we'd get three more runs after that," said Castiglioni, whose team racked up 11 hits with four players having multi-hit games. "I didn't think they were going to shut us out. It looked like they were trying to save their pitching. ... I had confidence we were going to keep hitting the ball."
The four-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth inning was led by Bubba McCubbin, Jacob Duarte and Alberto Ayala. All three had run-scoring doubles in the fourth. Duarte and Ayala's blasts proved clutch, coming with two outs, while Hyatt Entz added a run-scoring single in the frame.
"No doubt," said McCubbin, who finished two for four with two runs batted in, of whether or not he thought his team would win after the fourth. "It gave us more confidence; I was a little bit nervous coming out today."
Burbank-Tujunga will face Crescenta Valley Saturday at 2 p.m. at Pacific Park. At the same place at 4:30 p.m., Vaquero takes on Foothill-Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans at 4:30 p.m. in a win-or-go-home game.
"CV's tough, they're always tough, but we're not afraid of them," Castiglioni said. "We're going to come out and play hard. We can't be afraid, if we come out afraid they're going to wallop on us. We need to come out with confidence."
Vaquero was held without a hit through the first 2 2/3 innings, thanks to Burbank-Tujunga pitcher Shane Cathcart. He struck out six of the eight batters he faced -- walking the other two -- in 2 1/3 innings.
A pitching change to conserve Cathcart's availability for the tournament in the middle of the third did wonders for Vaquero.
Raymond Cejudo and Michael Lemus combined for back-to-back hits -- a double and single, respectively -- to pull Vaquero within 6-2 after the move in the third inning. Cejudo's double into right field turned into a triple on a throwing error into the infield. Lemus brought his teammate home with a single through the 6-5 hole in the infield.
Down, 7-2, to start the fourth, Vaquero broke out for two more runs on three hits in the fourth. A leadoff walk and single from Joseph Schmidt set up RBI groundouts from Isaac Zamarripa and Nate Rangel.
"With a team like Burbank that's mostly a powerhouse in District 16, it was a big thing," Vaquero Manager Kevin Ortega said of his team's offensive production in the third and fourth innings. "It gave us confidence to hopefully come out tomorrow and see if we can meet up with them again or CV. …These kids battle and if anything they showed heart, they wanted to win this game. It's bad that we didn't, but we'll see; we're not done yet. We still have a lot of fight left."
While Vaquero's offense struggled to get going Friday, Burbank-Tujunga was hot from the start.
The first inning was highlighted by a run-scoring single hit hard up the middle by Burbank-Tujunga's Nicolo Chuidian, who finished two for three with two RBI. An error in center field sent the ball to the fence and a throwing error into the infield helped score two runs, including Ayala (two for four, RBI), who had a leadoff single.
Two more errors on the next play put runners at first and second with one out and Entz (two for two, two RBI) capped the three-run first with another RBI single.
Consecutive two-out errors in the bottom of the second paved the way for three more Burbank-Tujunga runs. The second error scored a runner, who also reached on a Vaquero fielding miscue. Chuidian and McCubbin went on to each drive in runs with a ground-rule double and single, respectively.
"We made probably seven or eight errors, that cost us," Ortega said. "If we cut it down to at least two or one, we could have done something better."
Burbank-Tujunga scored its two other runs in the fourth and fifth innings. In the fourth, a JD Hanna leadoff single and two-out Stone Shaefer double increased Burbank-Tujunga's advantage to five, 7-2. A bases-loaded walk drawn by Cody Howser ended the scoring in the fifth.