GLENDALE — The implications of Sunday’s District 16 Tournament of Champions Major baseball final between Crescenta Valley Little League Trotta and the Vaquero Cougars were clear.
The Cougars were playing for the championship, while a win by Trotta would force a deciding game on Monday.
The Cougars prevailed, 1-0, at Pacific Park and celebrated the championship accordingly, but an announcement from district administrator Scott Moro minutes later turned jubilation into anger.
Before the start of the top of the sixth inning, Trotta coach Kevin Deitch said that one Cougars player did not have an at-bat and his team was playing the game under protest.
“A [player] has to have at least one at-bat and one defensive inning,” Moro said when asked what the official rule is. “The player had the defensive inning but didn’t bat. There’s a rule discrepancy.
“It totally bums me out. One team is rightfully the winner and the other knew the rule and got caught up in it. It was a hard fought game by both teams.”
Moro regrettably announced there would be a game Monday at 6:30 p.m., which caused outrage by the Vaquero side, mainly from the spectators, who began yelling at Moro and District 16 umpire Jim De La Torre, who was announcing the game.
Despite the announcement, the Cougars decided they will not be playing on Monday.
“We’re not gonna show up,” Cougars coach Mickey Moreno said. “We won on the field. We have 13 players; they have 10. I should only have to play 10.
“We’re city champs. After a big win, we’re not going to come back deflated. There’s no way [we’re] going to win.”
Deitch was visibly upset with making the decision. However, he recognized the rule and acted on it.
“It’s unfortunate but that’s the rule,” Deitch said. “There’s a green book with rules we all need to obey. I feel for their kids, they played a good game.
“I think we played a good game, too.”
Moro said he will have a final decision as to whether there will be a game played on Monday.
Before the controversy, a pitching duel dominated Sunday’s game between Trotta and the Cougars.
Brandon Guzman picked up the win after pitching a shutout for Vaquero, striking out seven with two walks.
His counterpart, Carson Kelly, struck out 10 in five innings. The only run against him came unearned on the second of two errors in the bottom of the second.
Ivan Membrila reached second base after a throwing error to first. Membrila then stole third as Sebastian Mejia was showing bunt. Mejia executed the bunt, giving Vaquero runners on the corners with one out.
Mejia stole second before Kelly struck out Bryan Saldana. A second error in the inning allowed Membrila to score what would be the game-winning run.
Trotta had a runner on third in the third, fourth and fifth innings but couldn’t get the timely hitting. They finished with three hits for the game.
Vaquero sniffed out a double steal attempt in the fifth when Trotta had runners on the corners. Holden Deitch broke for home as Aram Eskandari dashed for second. The Cougars didn’t bite and caught Deitch in a rundown.
It would be Crescenta Valley’s best opportunity.
Guzman struck out two in the sixth to clinch the victory.