First published in the April 23 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
In an exciting intracity rivalry matchup, the visiting Burbank High School varsity softball team defeated Burroughs, 4-2, in a Pacific League game on Tuesday night.
The victory helped the fourth-place Bulldogs (12-13 overall record, 5-5 in league) even the season series and move within one game of the third-place Bears (17-8 overall, 6-4 in league) in the league standings. The final contest between the two schools is scheduled for Thursday, April 28, at 6 p.m.
“I am so proud of these girls; they deserve all the glory,” Burbank head coach Melissa Sanchez said. “These girls work so hard, they’ve been trying to make so many adjustments day in and day out and these girls came out here and persevered.”
Olive Park was virtually packed, topping at least 100 in attendance to watch the classic rivalry game as well as honor the JBHS players on senior night.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the game got off to a rough start when Burbank’s leadoff hitter, sophomore Belinda Lujano, opened the game with a base hit up the middle. She later came around to score the opening run on a groundout by junior first baseman Sasha Quintanar, who finished 2-for-3 with a double, a pair of RBIs and a run scored. Lujano reached base in all four plate appearances, logging a pair of base hits, an RBI and a run scored while getting on base via a fielder’s choice and a walk.
“[Senior Kelsey Acosta] is a pitcher that Belinda loves going up against,” Sanchez said. “She comes in confident because she knows she can hit off this girl and she finds ways to get on base. Whether they are hits or errors, she gets on and that’s huge for us because she gets it started.”
Burbank sent freshman pitcher Maddison Kellogg to toe the rubber against Burroughs’ senior starter. Aside from a two-run fifth inning, Kellogg stifled the Bears’ offense in a complete-game victory. She allowed two runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks while adding six strikeouts.
“Kellogg continues to amaze me; that girl is a complete stud,” Sanchez said. “She’s a freshman, but she pitches like a veteran and I am so proud of her.”
When the pitching is that good, even Burroughs’ head coach Doug Nicol had to tip his cap for shutting down a potent Bears lineup that is averaging more than eight runs per game this season.
“I have to give their pitcher credit. Maddison pitched a hell of a game and she deserves a lot of credit for this win today,” Nicol said.
The Bulldogs stole a crucial insurance run in the top of the seventh. Senior captain Elizabeth Zamora, who produced a pair of singles at the plate, attempted to score from first on Quintanar’s base hit that got under the glove of Burroughs’ left fielder. Sanchez sent her all the way home, knowing she would be safe even though the play at the plate beat her by a mile.
“I saw the umpire call the obstruction and that’s why I sent her home because I knew she would be safe whether she got thrown out or not,” Sanchez said. “We actually talk about that all the time. I always tell them to make it obvious — that way the umpires can see the obstruction. As soon as I saw the umpire throw his hand up, I sent her home.”
Burbank sophomore Eliza Bowren recorded a pair of base hits and an RBI, sophomore Kara Valencia collected a base hit and a run scored, and senior Hannah Zacariaz and junior Samantha Buckley each finished with a base hit.
JBHS senior captain Gigi Garcia did the most damage off Kellogg, belting a line drive triple that split the outfield gap and scored junior Stevie Dabbadie, who previously reached on an error. Senior Isabella Scozzola produced a sacrifice fly to score Garcia and the final Bears run of the contest.
“Gigi is a stud; she is our heartbeat and the person that gets us going,” Nicol said. “She did a great job today and hit that ball right in the gap.”
Scozzola and Dabbadie each reached on a base hit earlier in the game, while Laurel Piper had a base hit.
Burroughs sent starting pitcher Acosta to the circle; she managed to limit the damage in the first despite two Burbank runners in scoring position. She kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard for the next two innings before Burbank added a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning. She was eventually tagged with the loss after tossing a complete game, allowing four runs (three earned) on 11 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts.
Burroughs had the beginning of a rally brewing in the bottom of the sixth when senior Kiley Christopher reached on her second base hit of the game. After advancing on a fielder’s choice, she was thrown out by Burbank junior catcher Shelby Cribbs on a steal attempt.
“We had noticed in some of our scouting that their third baseman was up when expecting the bunt and we thought we could beat her over there,” Nicol said. “Sometimes you have to risk things if you want to win and that risk just didn’t pay off.”
The Bulldogs have a tough matchup next week, hosting second-place Arcadia (8-2 in league) on Tuesday, April 26, before the season finale against JBHS.
Meanwhile, the Bears have a tougher matchup in store, going up against visiting first-place Crescenta Valley High of La Crescenta (9-1 in league) at home on Tuesday, April 26, before their season finale at Burbank.