BURBANK — With both the Burroughs High and Crescenta Valley baseball teams, squads that had made the playoffs a season earlier, having opened up Pacific League play with losses to teams that had finished outside of the top four in league last year, perhaps Friday afternoon’s league showdown took on even more importance.
For the Falcons, at least, that was the mindset.
And, behind some early offense and solid pitching, Crescenta Valley staved off host Burroughs for a 4-1 league victory.
“After that loss [Tuesday against Pasadena], we probably had our two best practices of the year,” said Crescenta Valley’s Austin Brines, who was four for four with a run batted in — the Falcons’ only RBI that came off a hit. “We were zoned in. Our goal is the Pacific League title and we can’t give up any more games.”
Crescenta Valley (8-7, 1-1 in league), which has won two straight league titles and shared the crown with Burbank last year, got 12 hits, three walks and loaded the bases in three innings, but scratched and clawed for its runs against Burroughs senior right-handed sidearmer Cole Meyer, who went the distance and struck out three.
“I think Cole Meyer did a great job,” said Burroughs Coach Craig Sherwood, whose team fell to 6-6. “He competes; he has the desire to win.”
In contrast, the Falcons used a pair of arms, with senior right-hander Tanner Carrico getting the start and the win to improve to 2-2, while All-Area ace Brian Gadsby, a junior righty, came on in relief for his third save of the season.
“Tanner did a great job keeping us in the game,” Brines said. “Then we got to bring in our guy, Brian, and he did an awesome job.”
Carrico threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing one run (unearned), three hits, hitting one batter and striking out four. Gadsby came on with a 2-1 count, one out and Burroughs junior Max DeAmicis on second after a double — the only extra-base hit of the game and one of only five hits for the Indians.
Gadsby got the final two outs of the stanza on four pitches — all strikes. He allowed two hits — both infield singles to shortstop — and no runs over 2 2/3 innings, striking out two, including the final batter of the game as he came back from down, 2-0, in the count with three straight strikes.
“We needed to get this win,” said Falcons sophomore first baseman Adrian Damla, who was three for three with two runs and a walk.
While Sherwood wasn’t downplaying the loss, he isn’t ready to circle the wagons just yet, as he believes the start to league has emphasized that the season will be one of parity and close games.
“No one game is more important than another game. Every Pacific League game is as important as the next,” said Sherwood, whose team lost to Glendale by four runs and now Crescenta Valley by three. “I think it’s a very strong league this year.
“I don’t think the team that wins league this year is gonna win 12 games. … Losing a couple games is not good, but I don’t think it takes us out of anything.”
The Falcons never trailed on Friday, jumping out to a 2-0 lead when Bryan Wang opened with a single, followed by another from Damla. A single by Kewin Ledesma (three hits) loaded the bases and a Brines single followed to plate Wang. Brett Klein then forced in a run when he drew a bases-loaded walk for a 2-0 lead.
In the third, Joe Torres also drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk that scored Damla for a 3-1 advantage.
A Klein bases-loaded groundout in the seventh scored the final run for the Falcons, though the damage could’ve been much greater, as Burroughs junior first baseman Chris Peres made a phenomenal diving stop at the bag to get Klein.
In all, the Falcons stranded nine runners.
“We should’ve done a little better,” Damla said.
For Burroughs, the little offense it mustered came in the bottom of the first, when junior Aidan Anding singled and then moved to second on a sacrifice. He reached third on a wild pitch and scored on an error put in play by senior Cameron Rodriguez. Burroughs had a runner on base in all but one inning, but could never bunch together its offense.
Nonetheless, if the first week is any indication, the Pacific League standings should be bunched together a bit more than usual.
Follow Grant Gordon on Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon.