ROXBURY — Stepping onto the mound for the first time against Madison Park on Friday afternoon, O’Bryant freshman pitcher Fernando Burgos had the benefit of not having an intimate knowledge of the rivalry between the neighboring schools that share a campus and athletic fields.
Before their 8-6 victory against Madison Park Friday, the Tigers had only beaten the Cardinals once during Madison Park’s three consecutive Boston City League baseball championship seasons.
So when the 14-year-old pitcher inherited two base runners in the fifth inning with his team hanging onto a 7-6 lead by a thread, Burgos showed no signs of being intimidated by the kings of the campus.
He gave up a base hit to Hugo Mateo that loaded the bases. But then Burgos calmly struck out Kevin Arroyo fto end the inning.
“Come on Fernando, come on baby, give me a hug,” O’Bryant coach Ricardo Figueroa shouted before embracing his pitcher as he came off the mound.
Burgos (0-3) recorded two more strikes in the final two innings to log the save.
“It was pretty meaningful,” said Burgos, who played shortstop before being moved to pitcher, about his coach’s hug. “When you’re in a close game you need all the support you can get. The more support you can get the better you can be.
“I just had to do my best, carry my team through the rest of the game. It was a close game. They are a good team. I just had to do my best.”
The Tigers (3-8, 1-2 Boston City League Central) got an insurance run in the sixth inning to make it 8-6. After freshman Radinsky Baez drew a walk, the catcher’s attempt to pick off him off at first base sailed deep into the outfield, allowing the not-so fleet-footed third baseman to score from first.
His teammates howled as he rounded the bases and tossed him a Gatorade and gently ribbed him when he returned to the bench.
“That was tiring,” Baez said. “But it was good that we got that run. It was nice. It was a big run.”
Senior first baseman Mike Mejia went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs for O'Bryant and sophomore starting pitcher Brandon Ruiz fanned eight batters in 4 2/3 innings.
Both teams scored two runs in the opening inning before O’Bryant scored five in the second.
Madison Park got one back in the third when junior second baseman Whilde Nunez’s triple knocked in junior center fielder Jonathan Soto. In the fourth inning, senior pitcher Dave Marcado’s single knocked in sophomore left fielder Doudy Pena and senior right fielder Hugo Mateo.
Madison Park junior third baseman Garrick Garcia’s RBI single in the fifth scored senior first baseman Manny Garcia to make the score 7-6 before Burgos entered the game and retired the side.
“Fernando was outstanding,” Figueroa said. “He did what he was supposed to do in that situation. He came through. He threw strikes. He kept the ball down. He was awesome. He’s 14 years old and he’s doing outstanding.”
Cardinals coach Michael Viggiano was glad to see his team didn’t quit despite the fact that they are 2-10 overall this season and 2-3 in the City League North standings. At one point this year the Cardinals went on a seven-game losing streak.
“We were kings of the campus and have been kings of the campus,” Viggiano said. “It’s a pride thing. [The players] see each other. They do cross paths in school and see each other in the neighborhood and play RBI [baseball] together in the summer.
“As I said, it’s a rebuilding year. You can’t stay on top forever. Some might say the mighty have fallen, but we just took one on the chin. We have a bulls-eye on our back as big as a Dunkin’ Donut.”
Burgos, who was also 2 for 4 with two RBIs, hopes that Friday’s victory is the beginning of crowning a new king on campus.
“Now when we see them in the hallways they can’t say anything,” he said.
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- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ZuriBerry for all of the latest updates.
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- Mike Giesta | Boys lacrosse
- Catherine Calsolaro | @catrenee13 | Girls lacrosse
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Boys volleyball
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