By Rick Assad
There are many ways in which a team can win a baseball game and it seems the Burroughs High team is using everyone after Tuesday’s 10-0 bludgeoning of Bakersfield at a capacity-filled Stengel Field in a CIF Southern California Division IV regional playoff match.
The No. 3 seeded Bears will now face No. 2 Fullerton (25-9), which defeated No. 7 Mar Vista 4-2 on the road Thursday with a first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m. The winner will play Saturday in the title game.
During this six-game playoff run, the Bears have outscored their opponents 27-4, and in the most recent contest game used an old formula with a heavy dose of pitching, timely hitting and nearly flawless defense.
This time it was junior Nick Forrest’s one-hitter with 11 strikeouts that set the stage and was backed by a 13-hit barrage led by senior Andrew Chapman’s two hits that included a double, two hits from senior Lim Ceballos and junior Sebastian Zamora’s one-out, two-run homer to left field fence in the fifth inning that made it a 10-run lead and in which the mercy rule was applied.
“I was looking to just get a base hit and score the runner. Something simple. I was looking for a fastball middle out,” said Zamora, who had two hits of the final at-bat. “We practice hard every day and do the simple stuff.”
The No. 6 Drillers (11-19-3) didn’t come in with an especially impressive win-loss percentage but did edge Hanford 1-0 in the CIF Central Section Division III championship game which was their first banner since 1970.
Chapman’s double to left center scored a run in the person of sophomore Nate Chapman, who was hit by a pitch.
That run batted in pushed the lead to 8-0 before Zamora’s round-tripper that sailed over the fence.
After pulling ahead 1-0 in the second inning on a base hit from sophomore Mason Mahay, the contest was essentially iced after adding a six-run, seven-hit fourth inning.
“This is the most tight-knit group I’ve been a part of,” Burroughs coach Matt Magallon said. “I’ve played college baseball. I’ve played at the high school level, and I played very quickly in the pros. This group is so dialed into each other. They love hanging out. They love being with each other. They’re communicating and they know where to be.”
Magallon knows what Zamora can do with a bat in his hands and wasn’t surprised at the two-run homer.
“Zamora has put quality at-bats together the whole year,” he said. “He’s our highest batting average guy and the most runs driven in. He has a great plan at the plate and he executes.”
The Bears (23-10), who own a seven-game winning streak, batted around as 11 hitters made their way to home plate in the fourth.
Junior Jarell Bijasa bounced out to shortstop and Mahay struck out swinging. Junior Steven Suarez (two hits) lashed a double to left field.
Nate Chapman had a run-scoring hit up the middle and Andrew Chapman was safe on a single to left field.
The hits continued as Zamora’s single to left scored a run and senior Mason Medina’s double to right field plated two runs.
Forrest helped his cause with an RBI single to right and Bijasa’s hit to left added a sixth run in the frame that made it 7-0.
Forrest, who gave up his only hit with two out to senior Andrew Diaz in the second inning, had the full arsenal on display and especially the curveball which the right-hander used to perfection.
“I just pitch. I do my thing. These past few games I’ve had the same approach,” said Forrest, who faced 18 batters and retired seven and six batters in a row during his five innings on the hill. “I work to get no hits. I work for a no-hitter. I just have so much fun out there.”
Forrest went on: “I like to take a neutral approach to pitching,” he said. “I don’t get angry. I don’t get too excited until I finish my pitches.”
Magallon has full confidence in his entire pitching staff. “That’s what the guy does,” he said of Forrest. “He gets on the mound, and he’s not scared. He loves the big moments. He loves being on the hill.”
Three of the five innings Forrest toiled he retired the side in order, and they began with the first frame when senior Liam Taft fanned looking and Diaz whiffed swinging.
Junior Wyatt Ashe reached on an error, but the inning ended when Forrest struck out senior Johnnie Lee on a called third strike.
The second inning began with senior Nolan Arnold grounding to shortstop and freshman Wyatt Caid going down swinging and senior Isaac Rodriguez being called out on strikes.
The next inning began with Forrest getting a called third strike on junior Elijah Gonzales and then inducing senior Bradyn Ornelaz to bounce back to the box.
Taft then drew a base on balls and Diaz singled to left field, but Ashe fanned swinging to cap the frame.
Lee struck out looking to open the fourth inning. Arnold lofted a fly to center field and Caid whiffed swinging.
Rodriguez struck out looking to commence the fifth and Gonzales bounced to shortstop Suarez who made a fantastic stop and Ornelaz struck out swinging.