By Rick Assad
Three days after committing to play baseball for Pepperdine University, Gunnar Nichols pitched a gem and his effort helped Burroughs High dominate Crescenta Valley 13-3 in a Pacific League match on Tuesday afternoon at Tomahawk Field.
Supported by a 12-hit outburst that included four doubles, the senior curveball specialist went six innings while allowing five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks.
“It was a very solid game today. It was a good team win. The offense really supported me as a pitcher and I also think the defense supported me as well,” Nichols said. “I definitely went out there wanting to beat CV today. After my last start when we played Arcadia and it was a 1-0 game [loss at home on March 30], I wanted to do the same thing.”
The game ended after the Bears (13-9 and 7-2 in league) scored two runs in the sixth inning and included a two-out bases-loaded walk to senior Andrew Chapman, who finished with four runs batted. That inning saw seven batters make their way to the plate.
An inning earlier, Chapman delivered a three-run double to left center for the Bears, who collected three hits and four runs in the frame to move in front 11-2 and featured eight batters walking to the dish.
The other run was knocked in by junior Sebastian Zamora’s double down the left-field line.
In the fourth inning, Burroughs exploded for six runs and had five hits and led 7-1 as 10 players came to bat.
In the frame, junior Jarell Bijasa added a two-run single to left field while senior Mason Medina tacked on a two-run base hit to center field and senior Bailey Ewan (three hits that included a double) added a run-scoring single to right center.
“We pieced together a great game. We hit well. We pitched well. Played great defense,” Burroughs coach Matt Magallon said. “Typically, that wins us ballgames. We just wanted to come out and make sure we didn’t make mistakes.”
Magallon was especially pleased with the win because of the opponent.
“Overall, against the talent that we faced on the mound and just the mental awareness and the mental preparation these guys took, and the mental focus was there, and it showed,” he said. “Once we knocked that guy [senior Jameson Ferraro] out, I think the confidence in the dugout really spiked.”
The Falcons (14-8 and 7-2 in league), who have claimed 20 Pacific League titles since 1973, opened the second inning with a run as senior Chris Barrena led off with a walk.
Barrena then took second base on an error, went to third base on an infield hit by senior Zack Petersen (two hits) and scored on junior Tyler Garland’s sacrifice bunt.
In the bottom of the frame, the Bears leveled it at 1-1 when Ewan singled up the middle with one out, stole second and crossed the plate on junior Nick Forrest’s two-out double down the right-field line.
Crescenta Valley drew within 7-2 with a solo tally in the fifth inning as senior Noah Shorkey’s sacrifice fly scored junior Nico Terenzi, who led off with a single to center field, advanced to second on a wild pitch and third base on sophomore Jacob Deno’s sacrifice bunt.
Nichols meant business from the outset as the 6-foot-2 right-hander retired the Falcons in order in the first inning as senior Kris McCollum lined to second base, senior Luke Steel fouled to first base and Ferraro bounced to second base.
Nichols shut down the Falcons 1-2-3 in the third inning as he fanned the side. Shorkey and McCollum both went down swinging and Steel was out catcher to first base.
The fourth inning was more of the same as Nichols saw Ferraro line to center field, Barrena striking out swinging and Petersen called out on strikes.
Ferraro, who took the loss, is a hard-throwing right-hander who seemed slightly off as he allowed seven hits with five strikeouts and two walks in fourth and two-third innings.
Senior Lim Cebellos had two singles for the Bears as did sophomore Nate Chapman.