By Rick Assad
At first glance, the numbers didn’t seem to quite add up to a victory when the Burroughs High baseball team faced Moreno Valley in the CIF Southern Section Division V title game on Friday afternoon.
Two hits and three errors by the Bears didn’t fit the typical winning stat line, but in the end it did as Burroughs captured its first-ever championship with a thrilling 1-0 win at Goodwin Field on the campus of Cal State Fullerton.
Senior Gunnar Nichols delivered yet another virtuoso performance as the Pepperdine-bound right-hander struck out 10 with no walks while allowing five hits across seven innings.
“I just tried staying relaxed and I knew if they got a hit they could score, but I just wanted to get out of that and I did my best to get them out,” Nichols said of those tense moments. “Errors happen and it’s a part of the game. I just wanted to get over those errors and do it for the team. But sometimes I just try to block the stands and, I’m in the zone, and get it over with.”
Nichols was able to escape jams in the fourth, fifth and six innings and saved his best for last when he powered through the seventh 1-2-3 that included a sizzling diving grab in foul territory by senior catcher Mason Medina.
Medina’s two-out single in the fourth inning to right center field was the game’s only run batted in as it scored sophomore pinch runner Dylan Conahan, who came in for senior Andrew Chapman, who was safe on a force out.
“It took us a few innings to get used to him [Frank Camarillo]. I saw a fastball up and drove it to right center,” Medina said of his game-winning hit.
Sophomore Nate Chapman opened the frame with a single to center field but was erased on a pickoff by Camarillo.
The Bears (22-10 and 11-3 for second in the Pacific League) knew they were going to be challenged by the Vikings (27-4 and 10-2 for first place in the Sunbelt League) and they were.
“It was low scoring as I think we all would have predicted. Frank Camarillo is a heck of a pitcher,” Burroughs coach Matt Magallon said. “Probably the best we’ve seen this year. I thought our team battled really well and I thought the players adjusted to him and the speed.”
Camarillo, who will be attending and playing baseball for UC Santa Barbara and whose fastball reached 94 miles per hour, fanned eight with one walk and retired the Bears in order in the first, second, third and fifth innings.
Camarillo was also impressive as the right-hander fanned eight with one walk over six frames.
Nichols, who owns a wicked curveball, allowed a single to the first batter he faced as senior Aiden Magana (two hits) singled to left field.
Senior Jason Avila and Camarillo then both struck out swinging and the third out was made when Magana was called out for interference at second base.
The Vikings went down quietly in the second inning as senior Greg Luna lined to center field and senior Johnny Silva and junior Luis Arias both fanned swinging.
Junior Hector Rodriguez, who had two hits, slapped a one-out single to right center for the Vikings in the third inning, but sophomore George Banuelos fouled out to first base and Magana bounced into a force out.
Avila reached on an error in the fourth inning to begin the frame but was later out on a force.
Camarillo was also safe on a miscue and took second on the play.
Junior Adam Del Rosario came in as a pinch runner and moved to third when Nichols was called for a balk.
Nichols, calm and cool, then whiffed Luna on a called third strike and fanned Silva swinging to end the threat.
Nichols, who threw 94 pitches including 67 for strikes, faced more trouble in the fifth inning as Rodriguez was safe on a two-out infield single.
A pinch runner entered the game and took second on a throwing error and advanced all the way to third base before Nichols struck out Banuelos swinging.
Nichols faced his stiffest challenge in the sixth inning as Silva reached on a bloop hit to left and took second base when Avila was safe on an infield bunt.
Camarillo then bounced into a double play and the inning was saved when Nichols struck out Luna looking.