Burbank baseball walks off in a 4-3 thriller over El Rancho in CIF Playoffs


In a win or go home setting where emotions were running high, the Bulldogs were able to overcome an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game up at 3 runs apiece in the 3rd inning. In the bottom of the 7th inning with bases loaded, Burbank pulled off a dramatic 4-3 win to advance with a walk-off base hit by Dylan Kramer to end the game.

Fresh off of a first-round playoff road win over Elsinore, the Burbank Bulldogs returned to their home field looking to keep their momentum going in the second round of CIF Southern Section Division IV Playoffs on May 9th, 2023. The El Rancho Dons traveled to Burbank after beating Chino on their home field, looking to overcome their road woes with only 5 of their 19 wins coming away from home. Both teams had their struggles closing out the regular season, but seemed to have found their groove after their respective playoff wins.

The Bulldogs entrusted young sophomore pitcher Colby Bette to take the mound in a pitching matchup against the experienced senior Justin Cardenas for the Dons. Bette got off to a slow start in the top of the 1st inning giving up four consecutive hits to start the inning, including a triple from senior outfielder and lead off hitter Felipe De Alba. The four hits in the inning powered the Dons to an early 2-0 lead. Cardenas held the Bulldogs scoreless in the bottom of the first inning, striking out the last batter. After giving up a double to start off the top of the 2nd inning, Bette was able to settle down to retire the next three hitters and attain his first strikeout in the afternoon.

The Bulldogs were able to get their bats going in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Senior third baseman Ben Castillo cut the Dons’ lead in half 2-1 with an RBI double, scoring Adan Depaz who had been hit by a pitch earlier. The Dons were able to get on base in the top of the third inning when junior Angelo Martinez was hit by a pitch, which was followed by his pinch runner stealing 2nd base. El Rancho proceeded to extend the lead with a single from sophomore infielder David Aguirre to put them up 3-1. The tide of the game turned in the bottom of the third inning in favor of Burbank when senior center fielder Julian Gonzalez singled to start off the inning. On the next at bat, senior first baseman Jimmy Cafferty blasted a two-run home run, bringing the home crowd to a frenzy and the game to a 3-3 tie.

For the next three innings, the two pitchers battled to a standstill, neither of them giving an inch in regards to allowing runs. Bette struck out three runners, allowing four hits and his teammates provided two double plays to hold the Dons scoreless. Cardenas struck out seven Burbank runners, allowing only one hit and one walk in that span. Down to their final out in the top of the 7th inning, Bette was substituted for senior Danny Edwards to get the final out. After hitting De Alba with a pitch, Edwards was able to strike out junior outfielder Noah Rios to close the inning.

Cardenas gave up a single in the bottom of the 7th inning with one out, and the Dons proceeded to make a pitching change of their own, subbing in left-handed senior captain Juan Contreras. Contreras allowed senior Danny Betancourt to advance to 2nd on a balk call that was vehemently disputed by El Rancho head coach Richard Rios. Gonzalez added a double to put two runners on, then Cafferty loaded up the bases with a walk. With the season on the line, senior outfielder Dylan Kramer knocked in the game winning run for Burbank with a single to bring Betancourt home, as the Dons were unable to throw him out at home plate.

Burbank head coach Robert Hart believes the resiliency of his team is the key to their playoff run, “It’s probably the single biggest component to winning games, because there’s so much failure involved in the game that if you’re not resilient, you’re probably gonna be up against it.” The Bulldogs will travel to Crean Lutheran for their matchup in the Quarterfinals with the Saints on Friday.

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