By Dick Dornan
MyBurbank Sports Editor
In another workman-like performance, the Burroughs baseball team continued its pursuit of a league title with a 5-1 victory against Burbank Friday night. Behind a strong outing from pitcher Danny Bustos, the Indians won their seventh straight game and 13 of their last 14 contests.
“I was proud of our guys in the fact that they did not play one of their better games and still found a way to win,” Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood said. “I think you have to give Burbank the credit for playing us tight the whole way through.”
With six games remaining on its regular season schedule, Burroughs (17-4, 7-1) has now defeated every Pacific League team. The Indians remain tied for first place with Crescenta Valley who defeated Arcadia, 9-0, last night.
Burroughs will travel to Glendale next Tuesday afternoon before the big showdown on May 1 versus Crescenta Valley at Stengel Field.
“Our next focus is our next game and only our next game,” said Sherwood. “As a team we always just think only about the next game, the next inning and the next pitch. We try and play for the now.”
Friday’s night victory against their crosstown rivals was no different than their previous 16 wins. Consistent pitching backed by a reliable defense mixed in with some timely hitting has created a recipe of success for the Indians.
Bustos went six innings giving up five hits, no earned runs, two walks and striking out two. He improved his overall record to 7-1 with a 1.22 era including a minuscule 0.48 era in league.
“I think Danny did a great job on the bump as always,” Sherwood said. “He has stepped up for us in many big games this season and has a great deal of poise whenever he pitches. He has become a pitcher, not just a guy who throws pitches.”
In four league contests, Bustos has allowed just two earned runs in 29 innings of work. His workload has consisted of seven, nine, seven and six innings in four starts.
Bustos takes pride in going deep into games. Against the Bulldogs, he threw 77 pitches, 55 for strikes.
“I try to establish that as a base of what I want to do every time,” said Bustos. “I expect myself to go at least six innings.”
Bustos’ teammate, Thomas Wilson, has followed suit allowing only three earned runs in 23 innings of work in league play. Wilson sports a perfect 6-0 record with a 0.64 overall era and 0.91 in league. As a team, Burroughs owns a 1.10 era in 57 innings during league.
Burroughs gave Bustos a 3-0 lead in the second inning courtesy of four hits. Roy Hirota had an RBI single and Aidan Anding ripped an RBI double down the left field line.
Burbank (9-9, 4-4) threatened in the fourth with a leadoff double by Randy Higgens followed by a bunt single from Cameron Briggs. An error plated Higgens with Briggs advancing to second.
With no outs and a runner on second, Burbank’s Danny Porras smashed a hard line drive to right field only to see Anthony Bocanegra use every inch of his 5-8 frame to jump and snag the ball. The sensational catch and play of the game prevented the Bulldogs from making it a 3-2 score.
Bustos then got the next two batters and no further damage occurred.
“I was thinking I could probably catch it and I’m just going to go for it. I went up for it and got it,” Bocanegra said. “It was a big play and I had to do it for my team.”
Two innings later Bocanegra added another splendid play with a bunt single that drove in Tyler Lewis to give Burroughs an insurance run making it 4-1.
“Anthony Bocanegra was once again big for us,” Sherwood said. “The catch he made in right field plus the RBI bunt he laid down were both clutch. He has been one of our most solid players this past month.”
After Burroughs tacked on its fifth run in the top of the seventh, Indians closer Max DeAmicis came in and struck out the side to end the game.
“It was a really big win. We came out like it’s another game,” said Anding, who had a single, RBI, run scored and two stolen bases. “We knew it was Senior Night for them but we just blocked that out and continued to play our regular baseball.”
“We try not to get caught up in the crowd but knowing that it’s a Burbank game definitely hypes up some of the guys,” Bustos added. “We just wanted to go out there, get some hits, and win the game.”
Aside from the second inning mishap, Higgens pitched well throwing six innings allowing four runs with six strikeouts.
“I thought he did well enough to keep us in the game or maybe win the game,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said.
Alex Minnick collected two of the Bulldogs’ six hits on the evening. Burbank had its opportunities but couldn’t cash in against Bustos.
“I felt the balls we hit weren’t falling and some of the ones they hit did. Sometimes that’s baseball. We hit balls hard right at people,” Hart said. “We also had some moments where we didn’t do what we are capable of doing. Ultimately we have to own it.”
The crosstown rivals meet again on May 14 at Burroughs at 6 p.m.