By Rick Assad
There were several high moments during Friday afternoon’s 6-3 Pacific League victory by Burbank High over visiting Pasadena.
They included Daniel Neria’s four-hitter across six effective innings and two hits each by junior Wyatt LaMarsna and senior Ryan King as well as senior Ian Schenk’s two-run homer in the sixth inning that made it a five-run advantage.
“I thought we had confidence the whole time, even when we were chasing a run because our guys have shown a willingness to compete regardless of the score,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “We have shown that early on and intend to continue with that mentality.”
Burbank (4-1 and 2-0 in league) has now captured four straight games including a forfeit win against Simi Valley.
The team lost its opener 6-5 versus host El Camino Real, then edged visiting Peninsula 2-1, claimed a forfeit against Simi Valley and beat host Pasadena 4-3.
Burbank’s pitching staff has been exceptional, having given up seven runs in the three victories that have actually been played.
“Our pitching has been solid and our bats are starting to come around and we have played catch for the most part,” Hart added. “That’s a good combination. That being said, we know we have some tough games ahead of us and then ultimately that’s what is going to define us. I think our guys are up for the challenge.”
Burbank fell behind 1-0 in the top of the second inning when Neria, who singled in the fifth inning, allowed a one-out solo homer to right center by senior Jaxon Bacon.
“At first I felt like I was trying to be too fine. I tried blowing it by the guys instead of giving my defense a shot and knowing I have great gloves behind me,” said Neria, who finished with five strikeouts with two walks and one hit batter. “Once I figured that out, it came natural to me. I found my groove and was able to put out the batters after my struggle. I let my pitches do their thing and it helped me throughout the remainder of the game.”
In the bottom half of the frame, the hosts pushed across two runs as junior Jared Cantu lifted a sacrifice fly that brought in LaMarsna, who smashed a one-out double and junior Jose Avellaneda lined a run-scoring single to right center.
Burbank then added two runs in the fifth inning to make it 4-1, as eight batters made their way to the batter’s box.
Senior Devin LeClair’s force out plated a run and another scored on a Pasadena error.
King is an excellent shortstop and is also very dependable with the bat in his hands.
In King’s first at-bat, he laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt in the first inning that moved Schenk, who walked to lead off the frame, to third base after he stole second.
King then fanned swinging in the third, but singled in the fifth and doubled in the sixth.
“I really liked how we were able to answer the early run they scored in the second,” King said of the 1-0 deficit. “We didn’t get down on ourselves, instead we battled back and were able to put up six runs.”
A pitcher himself, King liked what he saw in the two Bulldog hurlers on Friday.
“Our pitchers did a great job today, throwing strikes and keeping the walks to a minimum,” he said. “One thing we do need to work on as a team is scoring runners on third with less than two outs. We leave a lot of runners on third costing us runs. I think we have a really solid team this year and I’m expecting big things as the season continues.”
Junior left-hander Joshua DiPietro worked the seventh inning for Burbank and allowed two hits that included a bad-hop single to junior Casey Skett and a run-scoring double to Michael Gonzalez, who also singled in the third inning.
DiPietro hit a batter and struck out two, including the game-winner against senior Justin Brooks.
Junior Max Newhart singled twice for Pasadena, which is 1-8 overall and 0-2 in league competition.