May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Tustin’s big playoff run ends with loss to Burroughs in CIF semifinal round game

Tustin Coach Ben Owens talks to his players after Tuesday’s loss to Burroughs. (Photos: OC Sports Zone, Tom Connolly).

Tustin High baseball team’s bid to reach its first CIF championship game since 1993 fell short on Tuesday afternoon as the Tillers dropped a 2-0 decision to visiting Burroughs in a semifinal contest at Tustin High.

The No. 3 seeded Bears (21-10) advance to the Division 5 championship game for the first time in school’s history against Moreno Valley either Friday or Saturday.

Burroughs junior righthander Nick Forrest was overpowering as he pitched a complete four-hit game shutout. Forrest threw 104 pitches, struck out 13 batters and walked one.

“Forrest did a good job,” said Tustin’s first-year coach Ben Owens. “He threw first pitch strikes and we didn’t make adjustments.”

Forrest struck out nine of the first 10 Tustin batters he faced.

“I trusted my pitches, threw as hard as I could and hit my spots,” said Forrest, who remained undefeated (10-0) this season. “Our team’s bonding was the difference this season. We pulled for each other on and off the field all season.”

Nate Chapman led off the game for the Bears with the first of his three doubles. He scored one out later on a wild pitch to give the Burroughs a 1-0 lead. Forrest added an RBI single in the fourth inning to up the Bears lead to 2-0.

To see additional photos, click on the first picture:

The Tillers only had a few scoring opportunities but couldn’t capitalize.

Jake Phillips led off with a single in the bottom of the fifth inning but pinch runner Seth Halili (for Philips) was thrown out at second attempting to steal. With two outs, Hayden Jordan drew a walk but was picked off to end the inning. Daniel Benally led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a double for the Tillers (20-11), but Forrest retired the next three batters in order to end the inning and secure the win for Burroughs.

“We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be at the plate today,” said Tillers catcher Abel Castrejon. “It’s a tough loss but we battled hard all season long.”

Tustin starting pitcher Tyler Sandhu said it was a great season, despite the setback.

“It’s been a positive season but today we didn’t get the big hits and the two-out hits we needed,” said Sandhu, who pitched six innings, gave up six hits, struck out three and walked two.    

Bears coach Matt Magallon said Forrest has been their ‘go-to guy’ all season and his was extremely effective.

“He’s our guy and I was going to ride him to the end,” said Magallon. “I think he threw strikes to 18 or 19 batters and that made it tough on them. This is an awesome win and it means everything for our program and our school to be going to the finals. Last year was filled with turmoil, but these kids bought in 100 percent this season and their hard work has paid off.”

“We’ll learn from this loss,” added Owens, the Tustin coach. “I’m proud of these boys. We went deep into the playoffs and they were attempting to do something this program hasn’t done in a long time. They helped bring pride back to the school.”

Burroughs has won 12 of its last 14 games. The Bears have registered victories over Village Christian, Orange, Nogales and Tustin. The Tillers reached its first semifinal playoff game since 2000 and was attempting to reach is its first CIF championship game since 1993. In the first three rounds, Tustin beat Oxford Academy, Palmdale and Temple City.  

—Tom Connolly, For OC Sports Zone