There was a real sense of sadness hovering over Tomahawk Field prior to Saturday’s semifinal game of the 12th Annual Easton Tournament between Burroughs High and Moorpark.
The reason was earlier in the day it was learned that longtime Crespi baseball coach Scott Muckey, who had been Burroughs Coach Craig Sherwood’s mentor, passed away at the age of 63.
Maybe Muckey was looking down on the proceedings as the Indians rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and edged the Musketeers, 3-2.
The Indians (4-0) will face Harvard-Westlake, which held off El Camino Real, 3-1, in the other semifinal, on Tuesday at Birmingham High in the title game.
Justin Palafox’s single to right field drove in Jason Whaley, who reached on a fielder’s choice, for the game-winner off reliever Dane Aguilar, who faced five batters and was tagged with the loss.
“I wanted to stay focused and do my job,” said Palafox, who had two singles, of the final at-bat. “There was no pressure. It’s the same at the end of the game or the beginning of the game. I just wanted to do my part.”
The Indians, who are the defending Pacific League champions, sent seven batters to the plate in the seventh, had four hits and was helped out by an error.
Nathan Palafox opened up the frame with a base hit up the middle, while Riley Hooper was hit by a pitch.
With one out, Mitch Lefevre laid down a bunt that Aguilar failed to get a glove on and Randy Catlett (two hits) reached on an infield hit.
“Everything I do is based on my experience being around him,” Sherwood said of Muckey, who was at Crespi for 28 years and claimed 11 league banners, two Southern Section titles and sent numerous players to college and professional teams. “He’s the best high school baseball coach in the country. I think he helped us win today.”
Afterward Sherwood paid tribute to his mentor by munching on Doritos and sipping a Dr. Pepper, something Muckey did after games.
Moorpark, which has gone to the CIF Southern Section playoffs the last seven seasons, was a thorn in the side of Burroughs in 2015 as it took out the Indians in the Easton Tournament and the CIF playoffs.
“They knocked us out of the Easton Tournament and they had three straight shutouts,” Sherwood said of Moorpark. “They’re a good team, but our guys believe in the system. I dedicate this game to him [Muckey].”
Moorpark (3-1) scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning when Greg Dominguez lined a one-out double down the left-field line off Jesse Galindo (2-0).
Matt Page singled to center field with one out and Dillon Holliday was hit by a pitch and both eventually came around to score.
Galindo didn’t allow a hit until two out in the third inning when Dominguez doubled to left center.
Dominguez stole third base, but was thrown out at home plate when second baseman Brandon Martinez gunned the ball to catcher Tanner Whitlock.
Galindo, who allowed six hits with four strikeouts, three walks and one hit batter in seven innings, gave up a two-out single to Jimmy Friery in the fourth inning, but induced Junior Sandoval to fly out.
Page singled to lead off the fifth inning for the Musketeers, and after Holliday sacrificed, Galindo retired Dominguez on a liner to left field and T.J. Foreman grounded out.
In the sixth inning, Galindo surrendered a two-out base hit to Cole Kriger, but Friery grounded out.
Other Burroughs players who singled were Martinez, Whitlock and Whaley.