In a contest where hits came at a premium, it was opportunistic offense and some wild pitching that separated the Burroughs High and Crescenta Valley baseball teams, the league's reigning co-champions.
The Falcons collected all three of their hits in a three-run third inning and held off the Indians, 4-0, in Pacific League play Tuesday evening at Stengel Field.
The victory was the 21st in a row for the CIF Southern Section Division II No. 2-ranked Falcons (23-1, 11-0 in league), who stayed ahead of Arcadia (13-8, 9-1 heading into Tuesday). On the flip side, hope for Burroughs (12-11, 7-4) winning its third straight league title ended after the squad dropped its third consecutive contest.
"We got the hits when we needed to and we scored runs," Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres said. "Beggars can't be choosers. We got some runs against a good pitcher and an excellent infield and [Falcons starting pitcher] Scott [Vinceri] pitched a good game."
Vinceri was effective and clutch in tossing the shutout, scattering five hits and finishing with eight strikeouts on 81 pitches.
"I just kept trying to throw to contact and let my defense work," said Vinceri, who held Burroughs 0 for four with runners in scoring position with four strikeouts. "The goal was to try to keep them off-balance."
Crescenta Valley broke a scoreless stalemate in the third inning with three runs on three hits aided by a hit batter, a walk and two wild pitches.
Burroughs pitcher Riley Hooper hit five Falcons, including the leadoff batter in each of the first three innings.
That wildness was costly when a plunking of Kewin Ledesma was followed by a walk to Will Grimm and a sacrifice bunt that put Falcons on second and third with one out.
Will Smiley drove in the game's first run with a grounder, which was followed by a two-out, run-scoring single from Max Meyer.
A wild pitch moved Meyer to second base and the senior scored when Nico Arredondo singled to center to plate the Falcons' third run.
Crescenta Valley may have scored more if not for the Indians' outstanding defense. A single from Jaimy Blank resulted in an assist from center fielder Nicco Chuidian, who gunned out Arredondo at third.
The Falcons added one more run in the fourth.
Ledesma reached with two outs on an error, advanced two bases on back-to-back hit by pitches, and then scored on a wild pitch as the Falcons' last run came without a hit.
"The difference today was getting hits in keys spots," Burroughs Coach Craig Sherwood said. "They got them and we had a couple of opportunities and those hits didn't come. You tip your hat to their guy."
As for Burroughs' offense, the Indians out-hit the Falcons, 5-3, which included two hits from Justin Palafox.
Yet, the Indians had trouble stringing hits together and had rallies in the fourth and sixth innings end on double plays.
Even with the loss and losing streak, Sherwood is resolute Burroughs will continue to battle when the two teams meet at Tomahawk Field on Friday.
"It's been good competition that we've seen the last few games and that's what you want to face," Sherwood said. "We're going to stay positive and focus and come back Friday and try it again. We're not rolling over and playing dead for anyone."