Tag Archives: Oaklee Spens

Junior Bulldogs Baseball Camps Are Filled With Joy, Enthusiasm

By Rick Assad
 

 

An overcast sky gave way to an early morning sun as a dozen boys ages six through nine excitedly took the field for the fourth day of the first session of the Junior Bulldogs Baseball Camps at Burbank High on Thursday.

Dressed in baseball caps that ranged from the Dodgers to the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, each attired in a blue Bulldog T-shirt, armed with sleek aluminum bats that were game-used and brand new and topped off with sleek-looking, pro-styled gloves, the group that included Landon Bailey, Grant Baker, Leo Beebe, Kalin Chin, Clarke Crowther, Kyle Doche, James Gentile, Max Recchia, Ryan Recchia, Dominick Sheetz, Clark Stanis and Dale Vantrease, eagerly took the field.

When asked if it’s fun to participate at the camp, Baker answered in the affirmative. “Of course,” said the nine-year-old who plays Little League for the Ninja Tigers and has a game on Saturday. “We did all kinds of games like over-the-line and four corners.”

For the dozen kids at the Junior Bulldogs Baseball Camps, it’s time to stretch. (Photo Courtesy Mike Graceffo)

Overseeing the camp is Bob Hart, the longtime coach of the Bulldogs along with assistant coach Tony Ciccone.

“I just enjoy instilling the joy of the game to them,” Hart said. “I find that very pure. Very simple. Adults can be complicated. Kids aren’t that complicated.”

Hart said some players actually began at these camps.

“I’ve had kids in my program currently that were in these camps,” he said. “There’s a lot of immeasurable amount of satisfaction in watching a kid who struggles early in the camp and then watching him evolve by the fifth day to the point where his self esteem starts to skyrocket and he feels like he has a place. He’s a contributor. Everyone wants to contribute. These kids are no different.”

Also assisting was Mike Graceffo, a longtime coach in Burbank, who retired from his job at the Parks and Recreation Department in 2016.

Five of Hart’s players were also there lending a hand and they included Jakob Duarte, Oaklee Spens, Justin Robinson, Josh Balos and Curtis Peters.

Here’s a youngster about to take his swings. (Photo Courtesy Mike Graceffo)

Spens has volunteered for these summer camps and has been assisting since he was a freshman.

“Yeah, it’s really fun,” said the junior center fielder who batted leadoff for the Bulldogs of working at the camps. “You kind of get to go back to how you grew up and see how they grow up. You get to teach them. It’s nice to give back.”

Spens then talked about how he developed a love for the game.

“I started really little,” he noted. “My grandpa started teaching me at a really young age. He’d take me to the park and I fell in love with it. It’s full circle.”

Duarte has also been involved with the camps since he was a freshman. “It gives you an opportunity to give back to the program a little,” said the junior first baseman/pitcher. “When I was a kid I went to these camps and thought it was really fun. Yeah, there’s a commonality between me and the kids. It’s still baseball.”

The three-hour camp began with the youngsters running around the baseball field just like the big-league players.

Then four lines with three boys in each line was formed as each stretched to make sure their muscles would be ready for the day’s activity which began with short toss.

It’s all about the team and of course teamwork. (Photo Courtesy Mike Graceffo)

Next on the agenda was the formation of three teams of four as each threw the ball to the next boy.

Once that was over there were two teams of six boys in a straight line as they each threw the ball to the next boy.

The winning team was judged by how fast and accurate the tosses were.

What followed was a simulated game with a Bulldog player taking a  knee and then tossing the ball underhand as each boy took his cuts.

If the ball was hit between the cones, it was a single. If it went further down the line, it was a double, but if it was caught, it was an out.

A young camper gets ready to field a grounder. (Photo Courtesy Mike Graceffo)

The day was capped with Graceffo, who has been a Burbank-area coach for 41 years, tossing the ball underhand to the boys in another simulated game, but this time running to the bases.

“I love it. I love just being with the kids. They keep you moving. They keep you young. I just love coaching baseball. They’re just so full of energy and life and they’re brutally honest,” Graceffo said. “They just love it. They just love being out here. There’s no motive with little ones. They’re just out here to play and have a good time.”

Graceffo then added: “One of the biggest things I find enjoyment in coaching is seeing kids develop,” he said. “Kids that I coached when they were six years old and now they’re young men doing great things in society and doing great things in their city and giving back to their community.”

There were a few breaks in between as the boys ate ice pops, drank water, talked about movies and of course baseball and baseball trivia.

There are three more sessions and boys and girls are welcome and will be held on June 17-21 for ages 11 through 14, July 15-19 for ages 6 through 10 and July 29-August 2 for ages 11 through 14.

For those parents interested, they can to go to www.burbankhighbaseball.org for more information.

Burbank Baseball Wins Thriller, 3-2, Over Visiting Burroughs

By Rick Assad

 

There’s something magical it seems when the Burbank High baseball team plays in a Pacific League game and it’s a one-run differential.

On Tuesday night, the team participated in its eighth such contest and came away with its seventh victory after defeating visiting Burroughs 3-2 in eight innings before a capacity crowd.

Runs and hits were somewhat hard to come by, but errors seemingly weren’t as each team had four.

The eighth inning began with sophomore Ryan King drawing a walk off senior Julian Jaramillo, who took the loss after working one and one-third innings while walking three.

Burbank pitcher Andrew De La Torre went eight innings and allowed four hits and two runs. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

King stole second base and senior Davis Mieliwocki, who belted a towering home run to right field in the fourth that tied it at 2-2 and singled in the first, was intentionally walked.

“We definitely settled down and Andrew [De La Torre] pitched a really good game so we had to pick him up with the at-bats,” said Mieliwocki of Burroughs’ two-run first.

Mieliwocki then spoke about his long homer.

“I knew he was going to give me a pitch to hit,” he said. “I just remember getting a pitch I could handle and doing damage with it.”

Both runners then moved up a base when senior Daniel Ruiz laid down a well-placed sacrifice bunt.

Junior Troy Lee stepped into the batter’s box and hit a ball back to the pitcher, who didn’t handle it cleanly as King raced home with the winning run.

Bob Hart, the Burbank coach, thought that Burroughs would walk the bases loaded and one out to force a play at home plate or a double play that would end the inning.

“I kind of thought they would do that,” he said of the strategy. “They were all pumped up. It’s a big Burbank-Burroughs game,” he said of the longtime rivalry that can be tough on your nerves. “You try to not panic. You take a business-like approach.”

The Indians (10-14 and 7-6 in league), who will host the Bulldogs (9-12-1 and 9-4 in league) on Friday night at 6 p.m., bolted ahead 2-0 in the first inning with the assistance of two Burbank miscues.

Julian Jaramillo was tagged with the loss. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Junior Brian Garcia lined to center field and senior Michael Le struck out looking by De La Torre, a senior who went eight innings.

“I don’t really focus on throwing hard as long as I’ve got defense,” said De La Torre, who yielded four hits with four strikeouts and four walks. “Yes, I was tired. I always want a chance to get my team through.”

Senior Collin Johnson walked and Jaramillo drilled a double down the left-field line.

Senior Nicco Chuidian was safe at first base when two errors were committed on one play as both runners crossed the plate.

“We took the lead because they threw the ball around,” Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood said. “We average about two runs a game and our pitching is just over-taxed when they have to be perfect on the mound all the time.”

Sherwood, whose team is hitting a collective .230 with a team pitching staff earned-run average of 2.50, then added: “You’ve gotta play defense and you’ve gotta score runs. There’s three things in this game. Pitching. Hitting and defense.”

Burbank shortstop Ryan King making the throw to first base. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Sherwood said he should have pulled senior Xavier Dubon after three innings.

“That’s on me,” he pointed out. “They had a left-hander leading off and he struggles with left-handers. Our kids play hard. Our kids play well. I’m proud of our kids. I’m proud of all our guys.”

The Bulldogs came up with one run in the first inning with one out as  King was safe at first base on an error.

Mieliwocki’s single to center field off Dubon, who toiled four innings, striking out one with four hits surrendered, moved King to third base and cut the lead to 2-1 when Ruiz was safe on a force out.

After fanning senior Preston Lemus swinging and getting junior Hyatt Entz to ground to third base, De La Torre walked junior Albert Prado, but induced Garcia to bounce to third base.

Dubon worked a perfect second inning as junior Dominik Severo grounded to third base. Junior Jakob Duarte grounded to second baseman Lemus, who made a spectacular play, and senior Cody Winters grounded to first base.

De La Torre faced five batters in the third as Le walked to begin the frame. De La Torre whiffed Johnson swinging and Jaramillo popped up to the pitcher.

Both Burroughs and Burbank were a bit sloppy defensively as each committed four errors. Photo By: Edward Tovmassian

Chuidian was safe on an error as Le moved to second, but the inning ended when senior Andres Salazar popped up to shortstop.

Junior Aidan Gonzalez led off the third with a single to left center, but junior Oaklee Spens bounced into a double play and King hit back to De La Torre, who tagged him.

Lemus flied to center field to lead off the fourth and Entz was aboard on an miscue. De La Torre hit into a double play to end the frame.

Dubon is a submarine-style hurler and left an offering slightly up and in where Mieliwocki likes it and sent the pitch high and deep over the fence.

Dubon faced seven batters in the fourth inning as Burroughs committed two errors and beside the homer, allowed only a single to Severo.

De La Torre saw Garcia bounce back to the box and Le fly to center. Johnson walked, but Jaramillo flied to center.

Chuidian replaced Dubon and worked a 1-2-3 fifth inning as Spens flied to center, King lined to second base and Mieliwicki fanned, catcher to first base.

The Indians collected two hits in the sixth off De La Torre as Chuidian had an infield single to lead off the stanza and Lemus added a one-out base hit to left.

Salazar, the second batter in the frame, struck out swinging, while Entz was safe on a fielder’s choice as Chuidian was out at third base. Prado’s liner to second base concluded the inning.

Chuidian tossed another perfect inning in the sixth when Ruiz flied to left field, Lee fanned swinging and Severo lined to center field.

Garcia opened the seventh inning by grounding to shortstop, but Le roped a single to right center. The inning was over when Johnson bounced into a double play.

Jaramillo took the mound in the seventh inning and issued a leadoff walk to Duarte and senior Vincent Romano entered as a pinch runner.

Pinch hitter, junior Tyler La Marsna, grounded into a force out, Gonzalez grounded to second base and Spens bounced to Jaramillo.

De La Torre worked a perfect eighth frame as Jaramillo was out on a terrific stop and throw by King, the shortstop.

Chuidian, who fanned two hitters across two innings, lined to second base and Salazar popped to second.

Burbank Baseball Allows Nine-Run Fifth, Falls 15-5 To Pasadena

By Rick Assad

 

An early four-run cushion by the Burbank High baseball team wasn’t enough production against visiting Pasadena in a Pacific League game as it dropped a 15-5, five-inning decision on Tuesday afternoon.

During the nine-run, fifth-inning outburst, Pasadena sent 12 hitters to the plate with eight reaching on hits that included a grand slam to right field by sophomore Michael Gonzalez, who finished with three hits.

Gonzalez’s base hit to center in the second at-bat of the frame scored a run as did senior Robert Olivades, junior Jon Luke Goldman (two hits), sophomore Jesus Zuniga (two hits including a triple) and senior Christian Zambrano (two hits that included a three-base hit).

Down 10 runs and in order to avoid the 10-run mercy rule, Burbank needed to score at least a run and came close.

Andrew De La Torre was the starting pitcher in Tuesday’s 15-5 defeat to Pasadena. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Junior Dominik Severo led off with an infield hit, but was erased when junior Jakob Duarte bounced into a double play and when senior Cody Winters struck out looking, the game was over.

“We were missing a lot of pitches that were down and by us not finding that sweet spot, we were leaving the ball up and they were hitting the ball,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “I don’t think they’ve had that kind of offensive showing based on the stats that I’ve seen.”

Hart continued: “We didn’t deserve to win that game,” he noted. “It all works out the way it’s supposed to. When you get outplayed, you’re supposed to lose. And when you don’t do the basics, you’re supposed to lose.”

Burbank (7-12-1 and 7-4 in league) seized control 4-0 in the first stanza when it used three hits and a Pasadena error.

Junior Troy Lee’s two-out double to left center brought in junior Oaklee Spens (singled in the fourth inning), who reached on a two-base outfield error.

Senior Davis Mieliwocki was hit by a pitch and later came around to score on a single to center field by Severo.

Burbank stretched its lead to 4-0 on Winters’ double to left field that scored Lee and Severo.

Pasadena cut into the advantage 4-1 in the second when junior Hugo Escobedo lifted a sacrifice fly to left that brought home Zambrano, who lined a one-out triple to left center.

A four-run third inning by Pasadena (11-11 and 6-5 in league) made it 5-4 as 10 batters made their way to home plate that included three hits and two Burbank errors.

Senior Christian Perez’s scoring fly brought in sophomore Jackson Stuart, who doubled to left field to begin the inning.

Zambrano’s force out scored a run and Escobedo’s base hit to left field also knocked in a run.

Burbank, shown in a recent game against Crescenta Valley, committed three errors in a 15-5 loss to Pasadena. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“We’ve never had an offensive game like that today, so it was very fun to watch,” Pasadena coach Mike Parisi said. “We’ve been working hard on keeping the ball out of the air and trying to hit line drives and let the ball travel.”

Parisi, who was at Pasadena for eight years and two at La Salle, has guided the Bulldogs to the CIF Southern Section playoffs seven of the eight seasons, knows that nothing’s guaranteed.

“If you don’t come to play, any team can beat anybody,” he pointed out. “There’s a lot of baseball left. There’s three games left. Every game’s a dogfight. We’re fighting to get into the playoffs.”

Burbank, which committed three errors to a pair for Pasadena, leveled it at 5-5 in the third when senior Daniel Ruiz opened up with a single up the middle, took second base on an error, third on Lee’s single to right field and scored on Severo’s grounder.

Senior Andrew De La Torre ventured two and two-third innings while giving up four hits and one walk.

Junior Josh Balos worked one and one-third innings, surrendered four hits and absorbed the loss.

Sophomore Ryan King toured one-third of an inning and yielded five hits and a walk and senior Joey Clark went two-thirds of an inning and gave up two hits with a strikeout.

Goldman worked an inning, hit a batter, walked a batter and allowed three hits, senior Jordan Zach tossed three innings, striking out four with a walk and three hits allowed and was credited with the win and senior Gavin Nouskajian pitched one inning, gave up one hit and fanned one.

Burbank Baseball Edges Visiting Crescenta Valley 3-2

By Rick Assad

 

In the game’s final at-bat in the eighth inning, Burbank High’s Dominik Severo knew the winning run was standing on third base and merely wanted to make contract.

Severo did and when junior Chad Ruf’s offering found his bat and then sizzled into center field for a base hit, junior pinch runner Adam Loera, who entered for junior Troy Lee, who was nicked by a pitch to lead off the frame, crossed the plate with the game-winning run, the Bulldogs earned a hard-fought 3-2 win over visiting Crescenta Valley on Tuesday night in a Pacific League game.

The extra-inning affair also snapped Burbank’s 19-game losing streak against the Falcons, who fell for the first time in league this season.

Andrew De La Torre didn’t get the win after working seven innings and allowing two runs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

In the inning, junior Tyler La Marsna, who came in as a pinch hitter, laid down a sacrifice bunt, but was safe at first base on a Falcon throwing error.

Junior Jakob Duarte also laid down a well-placed sacrifice bunt that advanced the runners to second and third base.

“I was a little nervous, but I just thought I have to stay composed and play my game and hit it through the infield and that’s just what I did,” said Severo, a junior, who had two hits including an infield single in the fourth. “I got out of the box and took three breaths and just relaxed and put it out of my mind.”

The contest drifted into extra innings when the Falcons (12-6 and 6-1 in league) scored in the sixth that made it 2-2 when junior Isaac Sung’s blistering double to center field scored junior Chase Smith, who drew a walk to begin the frame.

The Bulldogs forged ahead 2-1 with a tally in the fifth inning as junior Oaklee Spens led off with a bloop single to left, went to second on a grounder by sophomore Ryan King, stole third base and came home on a wild pitch.

Neither team scored until the third inning when Crescenta Valley made it 1-0. Sophomore Will Grimm delivered a one-out infield single, took second on senior Andrew De La Torre’s wild pitch and advanced to third base on an infield single by senior Brian Ghattas.

When Ghattas took off for second base and the throw was on its way, Grimm bolted for home and scored.

Oaklee Spens scored two of Burbank’s three runs against visiting Crescenta Valley. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“You pitch. You play catch and you put balls in play and run the bases the right way, good things are going to happen,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said. “I’m always happy when it’s a quality win. They’re a quality program. Anytime you can do well against them, it’s a feather in your cap.”

De La Torre was superb, allowing six hits with three walks and two strikeouts across seven innings.

Grimm was De La Torre’s equal, working seven innings, striking out five, walking four with five hits yielded.

The Bulldogs (5-9-1 and 5-2 in league) leveled it at 1-1 with a tally in the third inning as Lee’s single to right center brought in Spens, who led off with a hit to right center, and scooted to second base on King’s sacrifice bunt.

After senior Davis Mieliwocki walked, senior Daniel Ruiz was safe on a force out as Spens took third base.

Third baseman Davis Mieliwocki contributed three outstanding defensive plays, which helped the Bulldogs in their 3-2 win over the Falcons. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Mieliwocki played third base and made three spectacular defensive plays.

“He got some action,” Hart said. “Even the ball he didn’t get, he knocked down and saved a run.”

Both teams used a pair of hurlers and each reliever was the pitcher of record as senior Joey Clark was credited with the victory after venturing one inning, walking one, hitting one batter and allowing one hit.

“My team was mentally into it tonight,” Hart said. “You could tell from the get-go and we had a terrible infield.”

Ruf absorbed the setback after surrendering one hit with a hit batter in one-third of an inning.

Aidan Gonzalez running hard to first base. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

De La Torre’s initial inning saw him face four hitters as Grimm grounded to second base, junior Vincent Parrott reached on an infield single, but erased when Ghattas lined to center field and Grimm was picked off at first base on the return throw.

De La Torre faced five batters in the second inning as Smith lined to right field, sophomore Noah Maddox drew a walk and raced to second base on Sung’s fielder’s choice.

De La Torre struck out junior Colby Rees swinging and sophomore Emilio Velis then flied to left field.

The fourth inning was a 1-2-3 frame for De La Torre, who induced Maddox to ground to shortstop, Sung to foul out to first base and Rees to bounce out to third base.

In De La Torre’s fifth inning, the right-hander walked Velis to begin the frame and induced senior Jamie Bleveans to pop up to the catcher.

Grimm singled to center field, Parrott reached on a force out as Velis became the second out and Ghattas flied to left.

De La Torre faced four batters in the seventh inning as Velis grounded to second base, Bleveans reached on an infield hit, but Grimm flied to center field and Parrott fanned looking.

Also getting base hits for the Bulldogs were Ruiz in the first inning and junior Aidan Gonzalez in the seventh.

Burbank Baseball Rallies For 5-4 Victory Over Muir

By Rick Assad

 

For six innings, the Burbank High baseball team managed to score only two runs and trailed by two runs entering the seventh inning.

This all changed as a three-run seventh proved decisive for the host Bulldogs, who rallied and tamed Muir 5-4 in a Pacific League match on Friday night.

Seven batters came to the plate including senior Andrew De La Torre, whose single off senior Brian Love, the losing pitcher, settled into right field as junior Troy Lee, who was safe on a fielder’s choice, scored the game-winning tally.

Ryan King was credited with the victory after picking up for starter Davis Mielowocki. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“Finding a hole and putting the ball anywhere,” De La Torre said of his game-winning single.

When the Bulldogs trailed it looked as though the Mustangs were in position to even the season series at a game apiece.

Was there any doubt that Burbank would win?

“Maybe once or twice, but then we found a way to get it back and pick it up,” De La Torre said of the rally. “We just wanted it more than they did.”

Two batters earlier, senior Cody Winters knocked home two runs with a sharply hit ball that found its way to left field as sophomore Ryan King, who led off by reaching on an error and senior Davis Mielowocki, who walked, both scored.

Love went two and two-third innings, striking out one, walking one with three runs allowed and three hits.

Senior Emilio Martinez gave up four hits, two runs, hit one batter, fanned three and walked four over four innings for the Mustangs.

Muir (6-3 and 0-2 in league) is much improved this season after opening its campaign with five straight wins.

Cody Winters delivered a two-run single for the Bulldogs, who rallied for a 5-4 win over Muir. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

“They have speed,” longtime Burbank coach Bob Hart said of the fleet-footed Mustangs. “Speed is a tough opponent sometimes. But the key to that is not give away free bases.”

Though down by two runs entering the seventh, Hart remained confident.

“This team has shown that ability where they’re not going to just sit down the last two innings and call it in,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re chasing one run and that team gets one more, it’s like the nail in the coffin.”

The Mustangs, who lost at home 1-0 to the Bulldogs on Tuesday, scored two of their runs without the benefit of a base hit in the first and third innings.

Burbank (2-3-1 and 2-0 in league) leveled it at 1-1 with a tally in the second inning when junior Jakob Duarte walked with one out.

Davis Mielowocki reached base twice and scored a run in the seventh. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Junior Adam Loera entered as a pinch runner and then advanced to second base on a balk and third base on De La Torre’s single to center field.

De La Torre took off for second base hoping to draw a throw and did, but put on the brakes and raced back to first base.

While this was transpiring, Loera sensed it was time to run and blasted off for home plate with the run.

Burbank tied it at 2-2 in the fourth inning when junior Oaklee Spens lofted a sacrifice fly to left field with one out.

Duarte led off the inning with a double off the screen in right center and advanced to third base on a sacrifice bunt from De La Torre, who also singled in the sixth inning.

Burbank’s two pitchers limited the Mustangs to four hits and four runs. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Muir, which stole six bases, took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Mielowocki issued a one-out walk to senior Aryonis Harrison.

Mielowocki allowed three runs over five-plus innings, yielded two hits with 11 strikeouts and three walks.

“I just wanted to make sure I got ahead with my strikes,” Mielowocki said of his outing that saw him fan the side in the second and fourth and strike out two batters in the first and third. “Make sure I could work off that first-pitch strike. Hopefully get some guys out. Have some guys roll over and have my defense work behind me.”

King was credited with the win after touring two frames, giving up two hits with one strikeout and one hit batter.

Harrison then stole second base and third base and scored when Mielowocki uncorked a wild pitch.

Mielowocki walked junior Harper Taylor with two down, but was left stranded when senior Tobias Humphrey struck out.

The Mustangs collected a run in the third and forged ahead 2-1 when Mielowocki walked senior Tyquise Solomon to begin the inning.

Burbank collected five walks off two Muir pitchers. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Solomon swiped second base, took third base on Mielowocki’s wild pitch and scored on a run-producing grounder by Harrison.

Junior Amaris Harrison singled to left field to begin the sixth inning.

Harrison stole second base, took third on a sacrifice bunt from Aryonis Harrison and scored to make it 3-2 on a single to center field by junior Ely Resendiz.

A solo run in the seventh gave the Mustangs a 4-2 edge as senior David Solis was nicked with a pitch by Kings to start the inning.

Solis stole second base and with two out, Solomon delivered a bloop single to left field that plated Solis.

Burroughs, Burbank Baseball Teams Ready To Roar

By Rick Assad

 

Though the Pacific League hasn’t yet begun, it’s highly likely the Burroughs High and Burbank baseball teams will probably qualify for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

The Indians and Bulldogs have deep and capable pitching staffs, which is a key factor in having a winning season.

One of Burroughs’ strengths will be its pitching staff, which boasts a dozen hurlers. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burroughs, which is looking to make the playoffs for a fifth straight year, has a dozen pitchers on the staff and all are capable of performing at a high level.

“This is one of our team strengths this year with 12 players able to toss the ball,” longtime Burroughs coach Craig Sherwood said. “While no one pitcher is dominant, there is a staff of very capable pitchers as well as situational pitchers that will be called upon constantly to get outs in big situations.”

If there is an ace it would be senior and three-year starter Nicco Chuidian, while last year’s Pacific League Pitcher of the Year, Xavier Dubon, is a submarine specialist and very effective.

If the Indians are in front and it’s late in the game, the closer and set-up men will be seniors Andres Salazar and Julian Jaramillo.

Burbank works on its defensive prowess. Defense and pitching will be two keys to success. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

The long relievers will be senior submariner Michael Le and juniors Tobey Ho, Johnny Angel, Colgan Martin and Matthew Ziegler.

The rest of the Indians’ staff includes seniors Josh Hooker, Brandon Aguilar and Nathaniel Metz.

The Indians participated in three preseason tourneys and they include the prestigious Easton Tournament, which is loaded with talented teams, the Lancaster Rotary West Tournament hosted by Quartz Hill High and the Coach Bob Tournament in Arizona.

The Indians are 2-6, with a 6-5 decision over Lancaster in the Lancaster Rotary West tourney and an 8-1 triumph over Highland in the Quartz Hill tourney.

It’s a close one at first base when the Indians played a recent game against St. Francis. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

Burroughs will open the league portion with a game at Hoover on March 8.

Behind the plate will be sophomore James Turner and will be supported by junior Albert Prado.

Senior Collin Johnson will play first base, bat in the No. 3 hole and also packs a potent stick.

Johnson, who swings lefthanded, is a power hitter who hits for a high average and will be backed up by senior Chris Magoon.

Second base will be a strong battle between junior Devon Esquivel and senior Preston Lemus, a transfer from Arizona.

Burbank Coach Bob Hart hopes to see a lot of runs and hits during the season. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

When Jaramillo isn’t on the mound, he will toil at third base and will be backed up by junior Hyatt Entz, who played on the boys’ soccer team.

Brian Garcia, a junior all-league pick, will hold down shortstop and bat leadoff for the Indians.

Junior Jorge Gutierrez, who is capable of playing second base and third base, will also see action at shortstop.

Chuidian will play center field when not on the hill and backed up by Salazar and Le.

The rest of the outfield consists of seniors Dylan Rolando and Rio Lopez, and juniors Kevin Gutierrez and Ho.

The utility infielders are seniors Daniel Roman and Hoover transfer Christian Morales, while junior Angel can play in the infield and outfield.

If pitching is crucial to winning, then the Indians are definitely ready. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

The Bulldogs failed to make the playoffs last season, but did advance to the quarterfinals in 2017.

“We have that challenge now,” Burbank coach Bob Hart said of getting back to the postseason. “But they’re going to have to find and accept their roles.”

Hart said despite an 0-3-1 record including a 5-0 loss to powerful Harvard-Westlake in the Easton Tournament, he’s optimistic.

“That was a very respectable game to a very good team,” Hart said of the Wolverines. “I think we’re going to be okay.”

Like its crosstown rival, Burbank, which also had a 3-3 tie against Chatsworth, commence the league season at Muir on March 5, will depend on pitching and will be paced by senior Davis Mieliwocki, who throws 85 to 87 miles per hour.

The Bulldogs can lean heavily on skill, experience and a solid pitching staff. (Photo by Ross A. Benson)

When not on the rubber, Mieliwocki, an all-league, second-team selection, is a steady and heady presence at third base.

Senior Joey Clark is also a key starter, while senior Andrew De La Torre, junior Jakob Duarte and sophomore Ryan King, who is the starting shortstop, will all need to be productive on the hill.

The rest of the pitching staff includes juniors Josh Balos, Willem Clendenin, while Troy Lee and King and Clark will be the primary closers.

The catching duties will primarily fall upon juniors Dominik Severo and Alberto Ayala.

Duarte, Lee and Clark will play first base, senior Kenny Won and junior Tyler LaMarsna will see action at second base and senior Daniel Ruiz will back up Mieliwocki at third base and senior Gevork Leklyan will also see time at third base.

Junior Oaklee Spens will patrol center field, De La Torre will play left field and junior Aidan Gonzalez will see time in left field.

The remainder of the outfield consists of seniors Cody Winters and Vincent Romano and juniors Justin Robinson and Adam Loera.