Terry Bernal/Daily Journal
Kyle Burns fired a two-hit shutout Wednesday as San Bruno Joe D downed the S.F. Barbarians, 8-0. San Bruno has won four of its last five.
It was an evening like no other for San Bruno Joe DiMaggio pitcher Kyle Burns.
The right-hander’s two-hit shutout — leading San Bruno to an 8-0 win over the San Francisco Barbarians Wednesday at Lara Field — was almost an aside from his career night at the plate. In four plate appearances, Burns reached base four times, going 2 for 2 with a pair of walks and two runs scored.
Not bad for someone who hasn’t swung a bat in an official game in nearly five years.
“I don’t think he’s hit since he was like 13,” San Bruno manager Edgar Hernandez said.
Burns has been concentrated on pitching in that time though. And the recent Serra graduate has emerged as a key component to the San Bruno pitching staff. With Wednesday’s win, in which he scattered two hits and two walks while striking out five, Burns improves to 4-2 on the season.
After Barbarians leadoff hitter John Carey led off the game with a 10-pitch at-bat, Burns got stubborn to the strike zone. He started each of the first 11 Barbarians in the game with first-pitch strikes. He only got into trouble once all night when the Barbarians had runners at second and third with one out. But Burns buckled down to strike out the next two batters, including the final out of the inning by way of a three-pitch punch-out.
“My approach is just pound the zone,” Burns said. “I’m not going to give up free bases. If they get doubles and triples, so be it.”
With its 11th win of the season, San Bruno (11-4) is on a roll heading into the final week of regular-season play, having won four of its last five. The team is currently in the driver’s seat for a postseason berth, entering into play Wednesday in sole possession of second place in the North Peninsula League, 2 1/2 games ahead of third-place South City.
“I don’t think we have a doubt in our minds that we’ll make playoffs,” Burns said. “But our goal is to keep playing good baseball … and play one game at a time. We can’t think about the championship game. We have to win today first.”
San Bruno hasn’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut this season. The team has frequently had to play through summer absences for various reasons. In fact, the reason Burns landed in the starting lineup Wednesday was because Hernandez as trying to shake things up; that, and the team was missing four players who are currently representing the San Bruno Colt League All-Stars at the sectional playoffs.
Going up against the Barbarians (4-15), who are in last place in the San Francisco League, San Bruno scored early and often to roll to an easy victory. San Bruno scored one in the second, three in the third, two in the fourth and two in the fifth.
Kyle Patterson and Anthony Orcholski had two hits and one RBI apiece. Jake Steenvorde and Josh Hitchens each tabbed two RBIs. Christian Bautista had one RBI, in addition to catching a gem of a pitching performance by Burns.
Despite being in the midst of a splendid summer season, Burns did not play through his four years at Serra, as he was cut from the team in each of his first three seasons.
“It was devastating,” Burns said. “[Baseball] was the reason I went there. But everything happens for a reason. I can’t let that stop me from playing the game I love.”
As a senior, Burns did not try out for the Padres, but instead took a baseball operations role as the team’s statistician. Currently, the right-hander is gearing up for a tryout at the collegiate level. He will be attending Westmont College in the fall and is hoping to crack the roster with the NAIA powerhouse Warriors.
And with Wednesday’s gem, Burns just may have found a new recipe for success. The burly 18-year-old’s usual routine has always been to play long toss the day prior to a start. In returning Tuesday from a vacation in Lake Tahoe, however, Burns was a bit out of his usual routine.
As Burns wasn’t informed he would be taking the ball Wednesday until an hour before game time when he showed up to the yard, he threw a rigorous round of long toss earlier in the day. According to Burns, the effects were surprisingly positive, as he felt an extra bolt of adrenaline as soon as he started his pregame warm-up in the bullpen.
“I don’t think I ever have (played long toss the same day of a start),” Burns said. “I think I’m going to start doing that.”
San Bruno has a daunting week ahead. With four games remaining on its regular-season schedule, San Bruno has a two-game series with first-place Pacifica before closing the regular season July 15 against the South Peninsula League’s top dog, San Carlos.