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Walk-off hit wins it for Burbank

Baseball: Hernandez delivers game-winner in bottom of the seventh to lift Bulldogs past Saugus, 5-4.

June 15, 2011|By Jeremy Curtis, Special to the Leader

BURBANK HIGH — It's seldom that a game ends this way.

It's rare that such a scenario even presents itself at all.

There were two outs in the bottom of the seventh — and final — inning. The Burbank High baseball team managed a comeback rally against visiting Saugus, tying the game at 4 moments earlier.

The right-handed Harrison Hernandez, a junior third baseman, who fittingly wears No. 44, stepped into the batter's box for the Bulldogs, with runners on second and third. Hernandez worked Saugus pitcher, Dylan Freyre, to a 1-1 count.

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The tension mounted as Freyre dealt and delivered a curveball. Hernandez waited on the pitch, swung the bat with might, and sent the ball into the net above the left-field fence. The hit, which was Hernandez' first walk-off effort, and first hit of the game, brought home teammate Dylan Mersola, propelling Burbank to a 5-4 win.

"Greatest moment of my life," Hernandez said, relishing the moment. "I live for those moments."

Burbank Coach Bob Hart added: "If you're confident, then your success ratio is going to sky rocket."

Hernandez rounded first base, made it to second, then was rushed by a mob of teammates leaping in celebration.

"I didn't necessarily think he'd hit it off the top of the net, but I felt like he's been hitting the ball hard," Hart said. "I was excited to see what happens. I like to put guys in those spots because you can kind of see what somebody's all about. They either pucker up and go away or stand up. He stood up."

With the climatic win, the Bulldogs improved to 4-0 in summer league play. The improvement comes on the heels of a 2011 regular season that ended with an 11-16 final record, and absence from the postseason playoffs.

"Our approach has really improved," Hart said. "We've beaten a couple of good teams — Hart and Saugus — which are both top-notch programs. [Saugus is] a well-coached team and a talented team. They've always been someone we aspired to be at some point. I'm not saying we're at their level, but I think we're going in that direction."

Burbank played in 13 one-run games this past season, losing 10 of them. The team is ushering in 10 new players during the summer.

"I think it just comes down to their ability to believe a little bit [and keeping] their emotions under control, then pulling them both in the same direction," Hart said. "It matters when you know that everyone's on the same page — less ego — more we, less me."

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