LA CRESCENTA — Things tightened up late in Wednesday's semifinal game of the 2012 Tri-Cities Junior Baseball Tournament, but Foothill Glenoaks just couldn't get a grip on the game early and the cost was a 6-3 loss to the Burbank Orioles at Dunsmore Park.
A lead-off infield single by Conner Rodriguez and a two-out walk by Jack Porras (three for three) put the tying run at the plate in the top of the seventh after Foothill held the Orioles scoreless over the final four frames. Burbank turned to reliever Mitchell Lefevre, who recorded the final out of the game on a hot smash to third base to put his team in the championship game 7 p.m. Friday night at Scholl Canyon Park.
"After the first inning I think we played extremely well," said Foothill Coach Sean Rodriguez, whose team allowed Burbank to bat around in the bottom of the first for five runs. "Our pitching was stellar the last six innings of the game. Defensively, we made a lot of good plays in the outfield, especially our center fielder Nick Martin."
Relief pitcher Morgan Dickerson, who entered the game after his team had cut the lead to 5-2 in the top of the second, pitched the final five innings for Foothill, holding Burbank to one run on four hits while striking out three.
Glenoaks pulled within 6-3 in the top of the fifth when Rodriguez led off with a single to left field, moved to second on a pickoff-attempt error and scored on consecutive groundball outs.
The rally began anew with two outs, as Porras singled to left and Dylan Boyack moved him to third with a single to right, but Burbank reliever Tony Argenziano got out of the inning on a three-pitch strikeout.
Foothill scored the game's first run in the top of the first inning when Rodriguez reached on an error, took second on a wild pitch and came around on consecutive groundball outs.
Burbank notched a five-spot in its half of the first, with three straight one-out base hits following a walk and hit by pitch. Marco Tostado's double scored two to make it 4-1 and the Orioles would go up, 5-1, on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at third base.
Foothill got one run back in the top of the second on a pickoff throwing error that scored Ryan Wallace and came inches away from possibly adding more when Martin's sharp line drive to opposite right field was snared by the Orioles leaping first baseman.
"It was a good way to end the season," Coach Rodriguez said. "I'm proud of the boys, they played well. Our boys came out and they played hard. Unfortunately, you dig yourself a hole of five runs in the first inning, it's hard to claw back."