By Rick Assad
On a day in which Major League Baseball celebrated the 75th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, a high school baseball game was played at Burbank that saw both on-deck areas display Robinson’s number 42 marked in white chalk.
The opponent was Arcadia and the game lasted three hours and 10 minutes despite only four hits combined.
There were, however, 15 combined walks, five hit batters and 22 strikeouts as the Bulldogs fell 3-2, in a Pacific League showdown on Friday night.
The one-run setback could have been avoided as Burbank, which came into the contest one game behind Arcadia in the league race, had the tying and winning runs in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“Indeed, this was a tough loss. I saw my team compete after a tough day in which four of our players were involved in a major car accident, and gutted it out to play,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “We fell short on the field but I’m proud of our guys and extremely grateful that they are all safe and sound.”
Hart said the fact that junior Julian Gonzalez, junior Jimmy Cafferty and junior Ben Castillo, all played is a testament to their resolve and commitment to the program.
Senior Wyatt LaMarsna led off the seventh inning by getting nicked with an offering from junior Nicholas Chavez, who was the winning pitcher and toured two innings, striking out one, walking two and hitting a batter.
LaMarsna went to second base after senior Jose Avellaneda walked after facing junior Ian Hoffstetter, who earned the save after working one inning, fanning three and walking one.
Both runners swiped a base as the Bulldogs finished with seven stolen bases on the evening. Senior Jared Cantu then struck out swinging and senior Danny Betancourt also fanned swinging. When senior Ben Baptiste went down in the same manner, the game was over.
The Bulldogs (12-7 and 7-3 in league) scored first as LaMarsna opened the initial frame with a single to center field.
LaMarsna stole second and third base and touched home plate on Cantu’s one-out base hit to right field. Cantu also swiped second and third base and made it 2-0 on an error by Arcadia.
The Apaches (17-5 and 9-1 in league) evened it at 2-2 with a two-run third inning. Senior Alex Dolan walked to begin the frame and was forced by senior Lance Wong.
Senior Ari Nurhadi was hit with a pitch and both runners scored when senior Julian Gutierrez lofted a ball high into the air that should have been caught by the shortstop but fell in for an error.
The Apaches were no-hit for six and two-third innings until Chavez, the fourth batter in the inning, singled to right field off Cafferty. With the bases loaded, junior Evan Huang tapped into a force out at the plate.
Usually steady and reliable, senior Daniel Neria fanned five, walked four and hit three batters across five innings. He wasn’t sharp but he eventually settled down.
“I didn’t pitch my best yesterday. Felt like I was opening up most of the time, but I was able to settle down at moments,” Neria said of his outing. “The boys did great yesterday through everything that happened this past week. I couldn’t be more proud at the effort we put up against Arcadia.”
Cafferty absorbed the loss after working two innings, striking out three, walking three, hitting one batter and allowing one hit.
Baptiste rapped out a one-out single up the middle in the third inning and advanced to third base. Senior Josh DiPietro then walked, but Gonzalez and Cafferty both struck out swinging to end the inning.