GLENDALE — Trailing by three runs to Burroughs High, the Hoover baseball team was looking for something to ignite it late in Friday’s Pacific League game.
That spark might just have come in the form of a defensive play.
In the top of the sixth inning with Burroughs at bat, the Tornadoes got out of the frame on a double play that ended with an Indians runner being thrown out at home after a fly to right field.
Using the play as motivation, Hoover came back and tied the game in the bottom of the sixth and eventually won the contest on a walk-off suicide squeeze in the eighth inning to complete a 4-3 comeback against visiting Burroughs.
The defensive play came when the Indians had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth. With Thomas Wilson at third base, Chris Peres lifted a fly ball to right field. Hoover’s Javier Cisneros caught the fly and, with Wilson tagging up at third, fired a laser that reached the plate with no bounce. Tornadoes catcher Fidel Hernendez applied the tag and Wilson was called out for a double play.
“When Javier threw the runner out at the plate I think that might have woke us up a little bit,” Hoover Coach Brian Esquival said. “I think that kind of led to what happened the next inning when we scored three runs and it was that play that kind of ignited us.”
Tying the score at 3 in the sixth, that set up Hoover (11-9, 4-6 in league) for a dramatic ending in the eighth inning. Hernendez led off the extra frame with a long double to the fence in center field. He then slid into third just ahead of the tag on a fielder’s choice attempt. The next batter, J.P. Gallegos, was intentionally walked. With the bases loaded, Jonathan Ramos came to the plate. On the first pitch he saw, Ramos pushed a perfectly placed bunt along the first-base side which allowed Hernendez to easily motor home with the winning run.
“It kind of worked out in our favor when they put JP on the base,” Esquival said. “Jonathan handles the bat really well and we didn’t want to wait, so he was able to get it down on the first pitch.”
For the Indians (10-11, 4-6), who like the Tornadoes, are fighting for the final guaranteed playoff spot from the league, the loss was a tough one.
“When we don’t execute like we did today it’s not the players’ fault, that’s all on me,” Burroughs Coach Craig Sherwood said. “We just have had trouble scoring runs. We just can’t get a lot of multiple hits in an inning and just getting a guy on third base is an accomplishment for us sometimes.”
Burroughs was breezing along behind starting pitcher Cole Meyer. The submarine right-hander held the Tornadoes scoreless and allowed just two hits through five innings. However, he faltered in the sixth, surrendering three runs. He went six innings and struck out nine.
The Indians took advantage of some control problems by Hoover starting pitcher Thomas Hall to score two runs in the third inning. Hall gave up consecutive walks to Roy Hirota, Anthony Bocanegra and Max DeAmicis. Hall was chased with the bases loaded and gave way to reliever Luis Zamora. The first batter Zamora faced, Max Haddad (two for four with two runs batted in), roped a double to left-center field that scored Hirota and Bocanegra (two walks and a stolen base).
Burroughs made it 3-0 with a run in the sixth inning. DeAmicis walked and scored on a bases-loaded walk by Anthony Robles.
The Tornadoes were finally able to get to Meyer and answer back in their half of the sixth. Zamora reached base on a fielder’s choice and scored when Hernendez took a 1-1 pitch and rocketed it over the left-field fence for a two-run home run. Hoover made it 3-3 when Gallegos drew a walk and scored on an infield single by Ramos (two for four with an RBI).
“I was just looking to try and get my pitch and something I could handle,” Hernandez said of the home run. “Luckily he threw me something inside, he did jam me a little, but I was able to get on it.”
Hernendez was three for four with a home run, a double, two runs scored and two RBI.
Burroughs was retired in order in the seventh and eighth innings.
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.