If there is one trait that exemplifies the Burbank High baseball team, it’s never give up.
On Tuesday in a CIF Southern Section Division IV second-round playoff match against visiting Capistrano Valley Christian, the Bulldogs needed every bit of this philosophy.
Never ahead and despite falling behind by three runs heading into the sixth inning, they loaded the bases with none out in the seventh inning and scored two runs, but ultimately fell just short 6-5.
In that final frame, Burbank (15-10), which made its deepest playoff run in several decades, trailed 6-3, but this was hardly a deterrent as senior Chris Minnick (two hits) led off with a single to left field and advanced to second base on senior Henry Leake’s liner into left.
Junior Matthew Shaugabay also found a hole in left field on a bad-hop single that made it 6-4.
Senior Branden Phillips then drew a base on balls as did junior Abiezer Delgado which plated Leake.
“We were hoping for the timely hit, but it was still nip-and-tuck,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said of the close game. “There are hits and then there are timely hits.”
The contest turned when senior Christian Guerra bounced a ball to the pitcher, senior Andre Antone, who threw home for the force out and then gunned down Guerra at first base for the double play.
When junior Max Meltzer lined out to right field with the tying run at third base and the winning run at second, the Bulldogs’ hugely successful season came to an end.
“We had some opportunities, but we didn’t capitalize on them,” Hart noted. “I’m proud of my guys. They showed heart and character.”
Capistrano Valley Christian Coach Clemente Bonilla was relieved afterward.
“I put him [Antone] in a really tough spot,” he said. “He’s our ace, but we had to shut his arm down in January because of tendinitis. But he convinced me that he was mentally ready to throw the ball.”
Antone, who has committed to UC Irvine, earned the save after working one frame and allowing three hits with two walks.
Junior Alec Arnone was the starter and surrendered five hits with five strikeouts and three walks across five innings.
The Eagles (22-8) are a powerful hitting lineup with plenty of sock in their bats.
On the afternoon, Capistrano Valley Christian collected 13 hits off three Burbank pitchers.
The Bulldogs, who placed third in the Pacific League at 10-4, trimmed the lead to 5-3 in the sixth inning when senior Jonathan Castaneda lined a two-out single to right field that scored Guerra, who drew a two-out walk.
The Eagles, who finished in first place in the San Joaquin League at 11-1, pounced early and took a 1-0 lead in the second when Arnone (three hits) scored after getting a leadoff single to right center.
Capistrano Valley Christian’s cushion became 2-0 in the fifth inning when Antone lined a one-out homer over the fence in left field off Leake, who came into the fray with none out in the third inning, relieving senior Colby Vosgien, who went two-plus frames, walking two and allowing four hits.
“Burbank High is the best team I’ve been a part of,” said Leake, who had two hits and will study at Babson College in Massachusetts, and walk-on for the baseball team. “I know everyone says this, but everyone loves each other.”
Leake, who toured four innings and yielded eight hits with seven strikeouts and one walk over four innings, felt the team would rally.
“If that [Guerra’s double play] ball goes anywhere else, it’s only one out and we still have a chance,” he said. “But that’s baseball.”
Burbank evened it at 2-2 in the fifth when it sent six batters to the plate that included a leadoff single by Meltzer, a base hit to left from Castaneda, a run-scoring double to right center by sophomore Davis Mieliwocki and Leak’s sacrifice fly.
The Eagles seemingly iced it when they scored three runs in the sixth inning as senior Zack Mendez delivered a key one-out, two-run single that glanced off Leake’s glove into center field as sophomore Robert Wood, who singled to right center and junior Carson Matthews, who singled to left field, both crossed the plate. Mendez scored the last run via an error.
In the seventh, the Eagles tacked on an insurance run when Matthews sliced a double to left field that scored junior Nick Casarietti, who reached on a miscue.
The Bulldogs advanced to the second-round after routing host Lancaster 10-5 on Friday as senior pitcher Matt Lungaro, who will attend the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, tossed a four-hitter with one run over five innings, while sophomore Joseph Clark, who went one inning with one strikeout, one walk and one hit allowed on Tuesday, worked two innings with one run given up and two hits.
Burbank stole a season-best 11 bases and saw Castaneda collect two hits and three runs batted in, Minnick contribute two hits with a walk and Leake smack a two-run double and add a spectacular throw to home plate for the third out.