Burroughs High Coach Paul Heaney will make a lot of decisions this season. He is hoping, however, that they all don't turn out like the one he made Friday afternoon.
"We were going to walk that batter," Heaney said. "As a rookie head coach, I changed my mind and I paid the price."
Leading, 2-0, in the fifth inning, with Hart runners on second and third, Heaney could have ordered pinchhitter Barry Gindlesperger walked intentionally. He didn't, Gindlesperger tripled, and Hart went on to win the Foothill League opener, 4-2, at Hart.
Hart's Dean Fausett walked to lead off the fifth. A single by Dave Toledo and a sacrifice bunt by Jason Edwards sent Hart Coach Frank Sanchez to his bench, where he found an eager Gindlesperger.
The 5-11 senior took the first pitch for a strike, then rifled the next one to the center-field wall, 420 feet away.
"He cranked it," Sanchez said. "He has a little more sock off the bench than Briones."
Philip Briones took over at second base for Mike Elswick, for whom Gindlesperger had batted.
Gindlesperger scored Hart's third run of the inning, when Burroughs catcher Rick Hoban's pickoff attempt sailed into left field.
With still only one out, Sheldon Sparks had an infield single, stole second and third, and scored on Darren Renfro's sacrifice fly to center field.
Burroughs initiated the scoring in the fourth when losing pitcher Tom Ruffner led off with a double to right-center field. Ruffner moved to third on a sacrifice fly and scored when Bobby Niers lashed a single to center.
Ruffner, the only senior in the Burroughs' lineup, struck out the side in the bottom of the fourth, setting down the third, fourth and fifth batters in the Hart order.
In the fifth, Burroughs' Mike Bruse doubled home Kevin Johnson from second base for its second run. Tim Nedin had hit Johnson with a fastball, and he stole second.
The 335-foot shot by Bruse was his third hit of the afternoon.
Nedin pitched seven innings for Hart, allowing seven hits while striking out six and walking one. The senior left-hander pitched out of mild jams in the sixth and seventh innings to improve his record to 3-0.
"I liked the the way he hung in there," Sanchez said.
Heaney was equally impressed with Nedin's grit, saying, "He was out of the game for a couple innings, but he hung tough."
Nedin is not the only ace on Hart's pitching staff. David Lee was Foothill League player of the year last season.
"Our strength is defense," Sanchez said, "and our pitchers are throwing all their pitches for strikes."
Also throwing strikes was Ruffner (2-1). The right-hander had eight strikeouts and gave up only four hits, three in Hart's four-run fifth inning.
Burroughs left one man stranded on base every inning, including the seventh, when Hart catcher Edwards picked off Bruse at first to end the game.
Hart's record is 6-1. Burroughs' record dropped to 4-2.
The teams meet two more times this season, so perhaps Heaney will have another chance to pitch around Gindlesperger.