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Beer, Crescenta Valley baseball back in 2nd round

GLENDALE — Winning Pacific League titles hasn't necessarily translated to playoff success in recent seasons for the Crescenta Valley High baseball team.

For Falcons ace Trevor Beer, his sensational campaign saw him truly capture a signature win in the final week of the regular season when he got the victory at Arcadia, which had been nationally ranked and undefeated.

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Alas for the senior standout, a postseason victory on the mound eluded him.

That was until Thursday night.

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Beer notched the first postseason win in his decorated career and in the process the Falcons snapped a three-game playoff losing streak.

The right-hander pitched through trouble at times and was dominant in stretches as he went the distance to propel the Falcons to a 5-2 win over Lakewood in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division II tournament at Stengel.

"It feels nice," said Beer, who allowed two runs on seven hits with no walks and six strikeouts. "Live another day, get to play at least one more game with my brothers.

"It's a great feeling."

Crescenta Valley (24-4) has won 17 games in a row and won its third consecutive Pacific League title, but hadn't won a playoff game since 2015 in the Division II quarterfinals.

"It's been a couple years," Falcons coach Phil Torres said. "It seems like forever."

Crescenta Valley will look to get past the second round for the first time since that 2015 season when the Brian Gadsby-led Falcons took second in the Pacific League but made a run to the semis. In the second round on Tuesday, Crescenta Valley will travel to face Fountain Valley, which beat Anaheim Canyon, 7-1, in its opener.

Lakewood (12-19, tied for second in Moore League) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on the strength of a couple of singles off Beer. But the Crescenta Valley bats, which totaled 13 hits, finally began to put things together when the Falcons tied it in the third and took over with a three-run fifth.

"We needed to keep chipping away and keep working hard," said Falcons catcher Brian Ghattas, who had a pair of hits, a walk, a run and a run batted in. "We realized we needed to step up and take control."

Perhaps no player's line was more telling of the Falcons' struggles than leadoff batter Will Grimm, who was three for four, but was never driven in to score.

"We didn't run the bases well, we didn't get bunts down," Torres said. "We'll get our work done."

Crescenta Valley will actually be practicing at the Glendale Sports Complex on Friday due to Taylor Swift. A Swift concert in Pasadena is forcing Maranatha to host its first-round game Friday at Stengel, so the Falcons will be working on bunting and base running at the complex.

Early on, there was a big question mark as to whether the Falcons would have any more practices, though.

Beer gave up a single to lead off the game and then a single to left that was bobbled allowing a run to score.

"It's baseball," Beer said. "It's something I had to work through. There were six more innings and I knew the guys behind me had my back."

The leadoff man reached base in each of the first two innings for CV and the bases were loaded in the second, but no runs came across. Meanwhile, Beer got into a groove. Beginning with the end of the first inning he threw 19 straight strikes at one point and from the first to the fourth retired nine in a row.

Crescenta Valley finally broke through in the bottom of the third when Vincent Parrott (two hits, two runs) led off with a single and was doubled home by Brian Erickson.

After two more Falcons were stranded in the fourth, Crescenta Valley got the big inning and the crooked number it was striving to get in the fifth. Beer was hit by a pitch to lead off, Ghattas followed with a one-out single and JD Schaffer clutched up with a single through third base to score Beer with the go-ahead run. Lorenzo Respicio hit the Falcons' third straight single to score Ghattas for a 3-1 advantage and pinch-runner Rowan Respicio made it 4-1 when he scored on a wild pitch.

"We struggled a little bit in the early innings," Beer said. "We put it together."

Beer ran into trouble in the sixth with a leadoff single and then a wild pitch. But the second batter of the inning struck out on a dropped third strike. The runner on second broke for third on the play and a most unconventional 2-3-5 double play followed. An infield single came after, but Beer induced a comebacker to end the threat.

Crescenta Valley upped its lead to 5-1 in the sixth when a Ghattas single brought home Parrott, who had reached on a beautiful fake-bunt single.

Beer came on to close it out in the seventh and found trouble, as he allowed a double and a single to start the inning. After a sacrifice fly brought the score to 5-2, he retired the side in order with a strikeout ending it to put an exclamation point on the victory.

The reigning All-Area Baseball Player of the Year threw 89 pitches in the triumph with 68 for strikes as he has no doubt earned the two greatest victories of his CV days over his last two starts.

"I'm really proud of Trevor," said Torres, whose Falcons lost 3-2 to Capistrano Valley last season with Beer on the hill and the victors only notching four hits. "He pitched well last year, but we didn't get it done. These aren't easy games to win."

Twitter: @TCNGrantGordon

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