GLENDALE — Game 15 had always been on the schedule of the District 16 Junior Baseball Tournament of Champions, but it had carried the addendum of “if-necessary.”
It shed that moniker and came to be Saturday, when the Burbank Indians were unable to claim the title, as the Tujunga Blackhawks came out on top at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields.
The Indians and the Blackhawks met again Monday with no more games on the horizon. The winner of this game at Scholl would be the District 16 Junior Baseball champion and the Indians did not squander their second chance.
Burbank scored the last five runs of the game, capped by a two-run home run by Jacob Barrera, to win, 6-5, over Tujunga and claim the District 16 Junior baseball title.
“We’ve worked really hard all season and it paid off,” Barrera said.
The Indians pulled to within one after a three-run fifth inning. Burbank pitcher Blaine Traxel then set down the Blackhawks in order in top of the sixth, striking out two on just 10 pitches. In the top of the frame, the Indians had two outs and one on when Barrera came to the plate.
“I was expecting a fastball right down the middle and I just swung and hoped for the best,” Barrera said.
He hammered the third pitch of the at-bat deep into center field that cleared the wall for what turned out to be a game-winning two-run blast.
“I actually thought the center fielder, I saw him leap, caught it,” Burbank Coach Sergio Ortega said. “I looked at the umpire and when he made the home run sign I was elated and very happy for Jacob. He’s one of the best guys on the team.”
Traxel then returned to the mound and nailed down the title for the Indians, pitching a scoreless seventh.
“It was an amazing win,” Traxel said. “It was a very close game.”
Traxel, who was one for two at the plate with two walks and a run scored, took over the pitching duties in the fifth. He allowed two inherited runners to score, but after that shut down the Tujunga squad for the win.
“I was just trying to hold them so my team could try to score some runs and do their part,” Traxel said of his approach coming on in relief for Carter Kessinger.
The high school freshman-to-be’s contributions were especially important as he had been absent from the Indians’ Saturday loss playing summer ball for Alemany High.
“It was really important,” Traxel said. “I had to make it up to my coach and all my team. It feels really good.”
Tujunga got on the scoreboard first by way of a run-scoring single from Eric Oseguera. The Blackhawks catcher also hit a two-run single in the fifth and led all players with three RBI.
The Blackhawks added two runs in the top of the fourth on a groundout by Diego Alonson and an Indians fielding error. Tujunga gave one back in the bottom of the inning when Burbank got its first run off a wild pitch, allowing Matthew Shaugabay, who led off with a single, to score.
After the Blackhawks scored two more in the top of the fifth, they once again gave runs back in the bottom of the inning, which saw relief pitcher Anthony Davilla walk four. Burbank cashed in with three runs. The first came on a fielding error, the second on a bases-loaded walk to Brandon Ortega and the third on a pick-off attempt gone awry, pulling the Indians within one at 5-4 and setting the stage for Barrera’s game-winning home run.
“To me, this is bittersweet,” Ortega said. “I’ve coached these guys since Minors and this is our last game. I wanted them to go out on top and we went out on top. I’m very proud of them.”