A Pacific League softball race that was tilting more and more toward Crescenta Valley High loosened up a bit Thursday afternoon.
The Falcons are still firmly planted atop the league standings, but suffered their first setback as archrival Arcadia defeated visiting Crescenta Valley, 4-3, in eight innings.
The loss snapped a 10-game league winning streak for Crescenta Valley (15-6-1, 7-1 in league), which now holds a game lead over Arcadia (12-4-1, 6-2) and reigning two-time champion Burroughs (13-8, 6-2) with six games left.
"We just didn't play our game. It's pretty simple why we lost," Crescenta Valley Coach Amanda Peek said. "We didn't play our game defensively, we didn't play our game offensively and we didn't execute. There's no easier way to explain why we lost."
Crescenta Valley stranded nine runners and had a few innings end on base-running outs, with a couple of situations costing the squad go-ahead runs.
While Arcadia also left nine runners on base, all was forgotten when Apaches pitcher Jannelle Ha laced a bases-loaded, two-out single to left field that plated Emma Bargsten with the winning run in the bottom of the eighth.
"I can't describe what this win means," Arcadia Coach Richard Klumpp said. "Everyone in league is hunting CV and they're a great team and this was a total team win. Everyone stepped up."
Only a half-inning earlier, the Falcons seemed destined to break the deadlock at 3.
In the top of the eighth, Falcons pitcher Emily Mulcahey reached on an error and courtesy runner Jade Gardea took her spot.
Gardea advanced to second with two outs and was then thrown out at the plate on a 6-3-2 relay on an infield single from Alyssa Hernandez.
In the sixth inning, a Falcons rally fizzled when an infield chopper with two outs and runners on second and third from Jessica Yzaguirre (three for four with a double, run and run batted in), which would have likely been beaten out to score the go-ahead run, turned into an inning-ending out at third base on a tag.
In the first inning, Crescenta Valley had the bases loaded with one out when a two-hopper to Arcadia's second baseman resulted in a simple 4-3 double play as the Falcons base runner ran into a tag.
"We came out hard, but we let [Arcadia] in the game and let them think that they could win because we didn't shut it down early," said Hernandez, who finished three for five with a double and run batted in. "It came back to bite us, especially the bases-running errors. This was a team loss and it can't be blamed on one person."
Crescenta Valley scored in the top of the third on back-to-back doubles from Yzaguirre and Peyton Hause, while Arcadia answered back for three runs in the bottom of the frame.
Arcadia's 3-1 lead didn't last, as Crescenta Valley responded with two runs in the top of the fourth on a double from Hernandez, which scored Ryan Eldred, and on a single from Yzaguirre that brought home Natalie Bitetti.