First published in the June 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
The Burroughs High School varsity baseball team not only qualified for the CIF Division IV Southern California Regional Championships for the first time in modern history, but the Bears won in a five-inning, mercy-rule shortened game, 10-0, over visiting Bakersfield on Tuesday, May 31.
“This is unprecedented; we’ve never made it this far,” JBHS head coach Matt Magallon said. “[JBHS] never won CIF [before this season] so this is all new to everybody. We’re just really happy to be a part of a great ball club and have the opportunity to keep playing.”
Centerfielder Sebastian Zamora provided the final blow with his two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Zamora, who entered the game with a team-best .422 batting average, added a base hit, an RBI and a run scored in addition to his game-winning two-run blast.
“Zamora has put quality atbats together all year,” Magallon said. “He’s our highest batting average guy, most runs driven in, he sees great pitches, he has a great approach, a great plan at the plate and he executes.”
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Nick Forrest was masterful on the mound, twirling five shutout innings with 11 strikeouts and allowing only one hit and one walk. He needed just 62 pitches (45 strikes) to retire the 18 batters he faced and help the Bears advance to the regional semifinals at Fullerton on Thursday, June 2.
“I just pitch and do my thing. These past few games I’ve had the same approach — I work to get no hits,” Forrest said. “Runs always help. My team doing their job, getting hits, it calms me down.”
It was a one-run ballgame before JBHS exploded for a six-run fourth inning as the Bears batted around and collected seven hits. “It’s a great win for Burroughs; we haven’t had a mercy rule win since [Crescenta Valley],” Magallon said.
Second baseman Nate Chapman did his job as the leadoff batter, reaching twice on hit-by-pitches and adding a base hit, a stolen base and a pair of runs to pace Burroughs’ offense.
“Nate Chapman is the toughest out in this tournament,” Magallon said.
Third baseman Andrew Chapman had a fine day at the plate, finishing 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI, while catcher Mason Medina drove in a pair of RBIs on a double in the fourth inning. Thomas Vournas entered for Medina as the courtesy runner and promptly scored on Forrest’s RBI base hit two batters later.
Shortstop Steven Suarez went 2-for-3 with a double, first baseman Limbert Cebellos tallied a pair of base hits, two runs and a stolen base, and left fielder Jarell Bijasa registered a base hit, an RBI and a stolen base. Right fielder Mason Mahay produced a base hit and an RBI, while Kenneth Montgomery, who acted as the courtesy runner for Suarez, scored once.
“This is the most tight-knit group I have ever been a part of,” Magallon said. “I played college baseball, I played at the high school level, I’ve played very quickly in the pros and this group is so dialed into each other. They love hanging out, they love being with each other and that’s what you are seeing on the field.”
The Bears’ historic season ended when they lost at Fullerton, 10-6, in the state regional semifinals on Thursday evening.
Burroughs held a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning and was ahead, 6-4, in the bottom of the fifth.
However, host Fullerton rallied to score the game’s final six runs for the 10-6 win and advanced to Saturday’s regional final. With the weekly press deadline, no individual statistics were reported to the Leader.
JBHS concluded its terrific season with its first CIF-Southern Section divisional championship in the high school’s 74-year history and finished with a fine 23-11 overall record.