Burbank Baseball Squeezes Past Host Burroughs 1-0

Colby Bette struck out seven and allowed four hits over seven innings and Bryant Johnson's infield hit in the first was the game-winner.

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Burbank's Colby Bette kept Burroughs at bay after not allowing a run over seven innings. (Photo by Rick Assad)

By Rick Assad

What a difference three days made for the Burbank High baseball team on Friday evening in a Pacific League game against host Burroughs, which celebrated a dozen players on Senior Night.

Three nights removed from a four-run, nine-inning loss to the Bears that featured 16 total runs, the Bulldogs emerged a 1-0 victor on the strength of junior Colby Bette’s seven-inning, four-hit, seven-strikeout performance.

Bette retired the last 14 batters he faced and during this stretch struck out four hitters as a capacity throng looked on.

Longtime Burbank coach Bob Hart was pleased that Bette gave perhaps his best outing in a game that was pivotal.

“Colby was outstanding. Our team has played much better later in the year and hopefully that can continue,” he said. “I’m proud of my guys as always.”

Last season, the Bulldogs reached the CIF Southern Section Division IV quarterfinals.

The game’s lone run came in the top of the first inning on senior Bryant Johnson’s infield hit.

Junior Robert Snyder, who doubled to left center with one out, then raced to third base on sophomore Ryan Walsh’s wild pitch and scored the winning run.

Burroughs infielder Nate Chapman, who singled in the first inning, played his last regular-season game versus rival Burbank. (Photo by Rick Assad)

“Colby had a great game today. He really had one of his best outings of the season,” said Snyder, who was the starting pitcher in Tuesday’s setback to the Bears. “I think the difference between this game and Tuesday was the defense. The team was really behind Colby today, and that was really the key to success.”

Snyder added: “The bats weren’t there for both teams, and the game was decided by which team made a mistake that the other team could capitalize on, and today we capitalized early,” he said.

The win by Burbank (8-13 and 7-7 in league) gave renewed confidence to a team that struggled early in the season but has played well of late.

Snyder thinks the Bulldogs can make some noise in the Division III playoffs.

“For the playoffs, I’m hopeful that we can recreate some of the magic of last year,” he said. “If the pitching stays hot and we keep the energy from these games going, I think we can go far.”

After the 10-6 triumph in nine innings, Burroughs (19-6 and 11-3 for a two-way tie with Crescenta Valley in league) will have to regroup after losing three of its last four games.

Bette, who retired the side 1-2-3 in five innings, allowed a leadoff single to freshman Elliot Ross (two hits) to left center and an infield hit to senior Nate Chapman.

A double play off the bat of senior Nickolas Fritz helped out matters immensely and when Bette fanned sophomore Devin Whittekiend, the inning was over.

“It was a tough loss. We had a couple opportunities but couldn’t score,” Chapman noted. “Burbank’s pitcher threw a great game and his defense supported him all night.”

Chapman isn’t looking beyond any team but believes the Bears are going to be dangerous in the postseason.

“Looking forward to the playoffs,” he said. “I like our chances. I think we could make a run.”

Bette set down the side in order in the second as senior Chris Perez was out on a fly to right field, sophomore Logan Drossin fanned swinging and senior Dylan Conahan grounded out.

The Bears had something brewing in the third inning as senior Brian Martinez singled with one out and Ross lashed an opposite-field single to left.

When Chapman flied to right field, Martinez raced to third base but Fritz bounced back to Bette.

Bette worked a 1-2-3 fourth inning as he whiffed Whittekiend swinging and fanned Perez on a called third strike. The frame concluded when Bette induced Drossin to fly out to center field.

Bette’s buzzsaw then mowed down three batters in the fifth inning as Conahan bounced back to the pitcher, junior Kyle Smith grounded to shortstop and the inning concluded when Martinez popped to shortstop.

Bette was getting closer to the win after retiring the side in order during the sixth inning as Ross struck out looking, Chapman grounded to shortstop and Fritz lined to right field.

In the seventh inning, Bette induced Whittekiend to hit a fly to right field and Perez looked at a called third strike. When pinch hitter junior Andrew Cosio followed suit after being called out on a third strike, the win was secured.

Burroughs coach Matt Magallon, who led the Bears to the Division V title in 2022, also praised Bette’s outing and his own starting pitcher.

The Bears will make a run in the Division IV playoffs this season after losing a year ago in a Division II first-round game.

“Bette threw great. Hats off to him. We didn’t get a timely hit,” he said. “We gave up a run but Walsh threw great. We hit the ball right at them and they made plays.”

Walsh went five-plus innings, yielding five hits with four strikeouts, two walks and one hit batter.

Whittekiend toured two frames and fanned one and walked one.

Senior Ryan Sebastian collected two singles for the Bulldogs and senior Nathan Zecena added a double to left field in the second inning.

“Friday was probably one of the most fun games I’ve played in,” Sebastian said of the nail-biter. “It was close. The energy was great, and we ended up getting the win.”