BURBANK — The Arcadia High softball team accomplished something not many teams have been able to pull off this season against Burbank and ace pitcher Caitlyn Brooks.
The Apaches scored a run against the reigning All-Area Player of the Year in the first inning to take an early lead.
Although the Bulldogs tallied a run in their half of the first inning, the score was still tied after two innings.
Burbank was able to break the game open in the third and tallied six runs over three innings to earn an 8-4 Pacific League victory Tuesday against Arcadia at McCambridge Park.
The victory was the 14th straight for the Bulldogs (16-3, 7-0 in league), who are ranked No. 4 in CIF Southern Section Division III. More importantly, it keeps Burbank in first place in league, as it continues its quest to capture its second straight championship.
It also keeps the Bulldogs one game in front of rival Burroughs (14-4-1, 6-1), which is ranked No. 8 in Division III. The cross-town foes will meet Thursday in their first clash of the season at 6 p.m. at Olive Park.
Burbank Coach Mike Delany said it had been hard keeping his players focused on Arcadia with the Burroughs contest looming later in the week.
"It has been a battle for sure," said Delaney, who is in his first season with the Bulldogs. "No matter how much we try to keep them focused, Burbank-Burroughs is just a big deal for us and the girls have been talking about it since Friday. You can't not ask them to not think about it, because it is such a big game every year."
Burroughs' only league loss was a 10-6 defeat in 10 innings against Arcadia (6-9, 4-3).
The Apaches came out Tuesday and got to Brooks early. Evelyn Lopez drew a two-out walk and scored on a run-scoring double to left field by Izzy Mejia to take a 1-0 advantage.
Brooks (15-3) went the distance to earn the win despite struggling at times. The junior surrendered four earned runs on eight hits while striking out 12 and walking two.
After falling behind, the Bulldogs were able to get the run back in their half of the first inning. Isabele Frias (two for four with two runs scored) singled to center field and scored on a base hit to center by Julia Duarte.
"If we ever get down like that in the first inning, we know we have the ability to come back, whether it's with our bats or by making good plays in the field," said Duarte, a first baseman who was three for four with a triple, one run scored and three runs batted in. "We just had to stay positive and we were able to come through with the win."
After surrendering the run, Brooks buckled down, retiring the next eight batters, five by strikeout.
Burbank broke the 1-1 tie with two runs in the third inning. Frias began the inning with a single and Brooks followed with a single of her own. Two runs scored when Duarte drove a ball into right-center field for a two-run triple.
The Apaches kept things interesting with a run in the top of the fourth. However, Burbank's Cailey Stevenson tripled and scored on an errant throw on the play in the bottom of the fourth to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 cushion.
After Arcadia scored another run in the top of the fifth, the Bulldogs were able to break the game open in the bottom of the fifth, pushing across four runs to increase their advantage to 8-3. Jazmin Orozco, Kaitlin Brooks and Sabrina Steward drove in runs in the inning.
Arcadia tacked on its final run in the seventh.
"The players on this team just have a confidence about them, even when they fall behind, like in a game like this," Delaney said. "We start three sophomores who didn't play at all last season and we are starting to see the production from them. Our experienced kids have the confidence and that is rubbing off with our younger kids."
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.