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Palmer Trinity Advances To District Semis With Win Over LaSalle

Sam Burnitz on the mound for the Palmer Trinity Falcons, as they seek move to on the next round.

The first game of the 3A District 15 playoffs began with the Palmer Trinity Falcons (17-8) beating the La Salle Royal Lions (11-9) to advance to the district semi-final.

The Falcons had senior right-handed pitcher and Purdue University commit Sam Burnitz on the mound, and he was phenomenal. Sam threw a complete game, striking out three batters, allowing six hits and only one earned run over seven innings. Burnitz, a three-pitch pitcher, utilized each in his outing to come up big for his team. With a fastball, slider, change-up mix, he was able to secure the victory for the Falcons.

“I felt great, I had a little bit of back pain, but as a senior, I didn’t want this to be my last game.” said Burnitz.

The only blemish on Burnitz’ outing came in the form of a homerun which he allowed in the sixth inning. After the homerun, the Palmer Trinity bullpen began to get some arms loose, as Burnitz allowed two more men on base immediately after, however his poise began to show as he was able to get out of the jam. Palmer Trinity manager Howard Cuervo decided to let Sam finish the job and he did just that.  Sam threw 87 pitches, landing 52 of them for strikes.

Cuervo raved about his pitcher’s performance. ” He’s been a work horse for us all year. He’s a leader… when we need him, he steps up.”

Palmer Trinity was able to string together four hits in total. It was their clutch situational hitting that helped them get over the hump. Junior first baseman Jake Font hit a double over the head of the center fielder in the second inning, which broke the ice and drove in the first run of the game, as he went 1-for-2 with a walk and RBI. When asked about the at bat, Jake replied ” I was happy it went over the guys head. It felt great off the bat.”

Palmer Trinity junior Jake Font up to bat as he’s about draw out a walk.

Other notable performances for the Falcons came from the bats of junior Andres Williams, who went 1-for-4 with and RBI, and freshman Tommy Barcinas, who went 1-for-2 with a double and RBI of his own. Barcinas commented on his double saying ” I wasn’t trying to do too much, just waiting fastball.”

The Lasalle Royal Lions, in their final game of the season, went out with a fight. The Lions were able to tally up six hits, which was more than their opponents had. A big homerun off the bat of Lions senior Luis Penate in the bottom of the sixth inning ignited a rally that led to two runners on with one in scoring position. The completion of the comeback did not come to pass, and the Falcons were able to get out of trouble.

Lions senior left-handed pitcher and Florida National University commit Alian Alonso got the start his team. He went four solid innings, as he struck out three and gave up four hits while only allowing three runs. Behind Alian was junior right-handed pitcher Jeff Lopez, who too threw an incredible game. He came in to relieve and keep the game close, and he did just that.

Lasalle Royal Lions Senior Luis Alonso set and ready to deliver his pitch.

As it was the final game of the season for the Lions, Alian and Lasalle Manager Nathan Gomez were asked to reflect and give a few words about the season and time with the team. They both gushed about how much it means to be a part of the program. Gomez, who was on paternity leave earlier in the season as he and his wife welcomed their first child, had a bit of a late start, but even then, he relishes the memories of wins and spending time with the team at the convenience store 7/11  to get snacks and celebrate.

Manager Howard Cuervo was happy with the games outcome, but is ready to turn the page and focus on the next round of the district playoffs, as him and his team will be facing Westminster Christian. When asked about what from his teams performance he would like to carry over to the next game, Cuervo said ” All we have to do is play with no pressure. We’ve been doing it all year.”

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