Host Burbank Baseball Blanks Burroughs 2-0

Jimmy Cafferty worked six and one-third innings, striking out 11 with three walks and three hits surrendered and Julian Gonzalez contributed two hits with a run batted in.

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Jimmy Cafferty was a surgeon on the mound for Burbank in a 2-0 shut out of Burroughs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

By Rick Assad

In what was Jimmy Cafferty’s final regular season game for the Burbank High baseball team, and with the stakes high and the pressure palpable, the senior delivered a tour de force after working six and one-third innings during a 2-0 triumph over rival and visiting Burroughs on Friday night in a Pacific League game.

The Bulldogs are 11-9 in all games and 7-7 in the league for fifth place and have petitioned the CIF Southern Section for an at-large bid in the upcoming playoffs.

The Bears are 12-11 and 8-6 in league for third place and have qualified for the postseason.

In the league finale for both teams, and with a full house in attendance, Cafferty struck out 11, surrendered three hits with three walks, one hit batter, and allowed his first hit with two outs in the third inning as junior Nate Chapman singled to left field. The inning ended when junior Mason Mahay grounded to third base.

Cafferty retired four straight batters before sophomore Lucas Beltran, who was the Bears’ starting pitcher, walked.

The next hitter, junior Brian Martinez, singled to center field and after freshman Logan Drossin fanned swinging. Cafferty intentionally walked Chapman. Mahay then whiffed, also swinging as the frame concluded.

“As a team and personally, we have played better but we fought hard and competed to get the win tonight,” said Cafferty, the ace of the pitching staff. “I could have been sharper on the mound, but the defense made every play and the coaching staff made great calls.” 

In the sixth inning, senior Sebastian Zamora ripped a leadoff double to left. Junior Dylan Conahan entered as a pinch runner and stole third base.

Sophomore Lucas Beltran went the distance for the Bears and was the hard-luck loser. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Senior Jarell Bijasa struck out swinging and senior Steve Suarez was called out for interference at first base.

Conahan seemingly swiped home but the plate umpire called time out, so the run didn’t count.

Cafferty issued a walk to senior Roberto Castaneda, but Beltran fanned looking.

After striking out Martinez to begin the seventh, Bob Hart took Cafferty out to a rousing ovation.

“Jimmy’s been solid all year. I feel as though he’s the best pitcher in the league. Statistics will probably prove that out,” Hart said. “He won’t be [Pacific League] Player of the Year because that always goes to the first place team. But there’s no doubt in my mind he was the most dominant.”

Senior Daniel Edwards entered and struck out Drossin but Chapman singled to center and later stole second. When Mahay whiffed for the final out, pandemonium broke out.

Though Matt Magallon, the Burroughs coach was on the losing end, he appreciates what these games mean. 

“When both of these teams get together it’s a great game,” he said. “I look forward to the game because it is a playoff type atmosphere. Each at-bat matters and each play can swing momentum one way or the other.” 

There were four hits by both teams and it was deadlocked until the fifth inning when junior Mike Reynoso reached on an error and took second base on senior Danny Betancourt’s single to right center.

It became 1-0 on a single up the middle by senior Julian Gonzalez, who doubled off the right field fence in the third inning.

Burbank added an insurance run in the sixth inning as senior Dylan Kramer was hit by a pitch and advanced to third base on junior Ryan Sebastian’s bloop single into right center.

The Bulldogs did not commit an error and that was essential in the win over the Bears. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The run crossed the plate on a sacrifice bunt by senior Aidan De Paz.

“I feel like the biggest play was De Paz’s bunt which gave us some breathing room,” Hart said. “It’s funny because we always talk about the team and that is the epitome of a team at-bat.”

Magallon, who led the Bears to a CIF Division V title a season ago, summed up the longstanding rivalry.

“As far as the rivalry, the reason it’s so great is because the players all know each other. The only reason players are at the school that they are at is because of the demarcation line,” he said. “Best friends playing against each other. Families who grew up in the city and have their sons at the schools are diehards that bring such a great atmosphere to the game.”

Magallon went on: “It’s a very special rivalry and the players that participate are extremely lucky to have a community that cares so much about not only the schools but the players and the programs,” he said.

Burroughs senior Nick Forrest pitcher was last year’s Pacific League Player of the Year but missed the entire 2023 season with a shoulder issue.

“Competing against the Bulldogs is like a clash of arms. In the end, the ones that are louder, more spirited, both in the stands and on the field tend to win,” he said. “I think that simple execution in our offense is what allows us to come on top and beat the Bulldogs. Nothing wild, just good baseball.”

Beltran toured six innings and gave up four hits with one walk and one hit batter along with four strikeouts.