Even by high school baseball standards, Burroughs pitcher Kyle Nicol doesn’t throw very hard.
Yet the crafty side-arm tossing right-hander has found ways to get batters out and win games.
On Friday night at Stengel Field and facing always-tough Crescenta Valley, Nicol allowed seven singles in six and two-third innings including Ryan Lynch’s game-winning blooper into left center in the seventh that scored Chuck Weinmann, who walked, stole second base that gave the Falcons a 1-0 Pacific League victory.
“This was a tough game to lose,” said Nicol, who worked a perfect third, fourth and fifth inning. “I just wanted to keep throwing zeroes on the board. Everything was working tonight. They only had a few solid hits off me. But stuff happens.”
Nicol isn’t tall at 5-foot-8 and weighs 150 pounds, but is able to keep hitters off balance.
“I rely on movement and hitting my spots,” Nicol explained of his success that included a 1-0 victory over Harvard-Westlake in the title game of the prestigious Easton Tournament.
Three days earlier, the host Indians outlasted Crescenta Valley 13-8, but no such slugfest took place on this brisk evening.
The Falcons pulled into first place in the league with a 9-1 mark and are 17-6 overall.
“He did everything that he had to,” Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood said of Nicol, who will be playing baseball for Cal State Northridge. “I expected a low scoring game.”
The Indians, who are tied with Arcadia for second place in the league, managed four hits off winning pitcher Trevor Beer, who struck out four, walked two with a hit batter.
The game resembled a CIF Southern Section playoff encounter as every pitch was filled with tension and four combined errors were made with the Falcons committing three.
“You always want to play tough teams and Crescenta Valley is very good,” Sherwood said. “You wish every game was like this.”
Will Smiley and Scott Vinceri each had two hits for the Falcons, while Tanner Whitlock delivered a pair of singles for the Indians.
It’s not that the Indians (15-3 and 8-2 in league) didn’t have base runners, they did including the sixth inning when the bases were filled.
In the inning, six batters went to the plate as Randy Catlett led off with an infield hit. Gabriel Pellot came in as a pinch runner and moved all the way to third base, but couldn’t score.
Jason Whaley, who walked, also advanced to third base, but once again, couldn’t cross the plate.
In the seventh inning, Whitlock walked with one out and went to second base on an error, but Mitch Lefevre flied to left fielder Chuck Weinmann and designated hitter Riley Hooper bounced to Lynch, the shortstop.
In the first inning, Omar Tejeda singled to right center with two out and moved to second base on an error, but was left stranded when Jonathan Max fanned.
With one out in the second inning, Whitlock’s base hit to left was followed by Lefevre striking out and Hooper lifting a fly ball to Jamie Blank in right field.
Tejeda was nicked with a pitch in the fourth inning, but Max bounced into a force out. Max went second base on a wild pitch and became the second out which was followed by Nathan Palafox grounding out.
In the fifth, Whitlock singled to right center to open the frame, stole second base and moved to third on Hooper’s grounder. Whitlock was the third out after trying to score on a passed ball.
The Falcons also had scoring opportunities in the first inning when Blank, Vinceri and Smiley all singled, but Nicol got designated hitter Anthony Russo to ground out to first baseman Palafox.
Crescenta Valley also had a runner at third base in Ryan Malloy, who singled in the second inning, but failed to score when Nicol, who struck out four with one walk, induced Lynch and Nico Arrendondo to ground out.
The Falcons saw Vinceri single with one out in the sixth. William Rees became the pinch runner and advanced to second base on Smiley’s hit, but Max Meyer lined into a double play that ended the threat.