GLENDALE — It took a third meeting between the Crescenta Valley and Burbank Junior All-Stars to decide who would represent District 16 at the upcoming Section 2 baseball tournament.
For a while, it seemed that extra innings would be in play until host Crescenta Valley took advantage of some wildness from Burbank pitchers and scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth to rally for a 7-2 victory on Wednesday night at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields.
With the victory, Crescenta Valley won the rubber match between the teams, while also punching its ticket to the Section 2 Tournament, where it will host the District 51 champion Sunday at Dunsmore Field at 7 p.m. in the opener.
Burbank had all the momentum heading into the bottom of the sixth inning as the visitors had just taken a 2-1 lead in the top half of the inning.
Burbank pitchers, who had walked four batters through five previous innings, struggled, though, and issued four free passes and a hit batter in the sixth inning in surrendering six runs.
All those issues were nearly avoided, though, as a single from Crescenta Valley’s Troy Leef to lead off and a plunking of Jake Schaeffer were followed by an amazing catch for an out by catcher Riley Hooper and a strikeout.
Crescenta Valley then patiently took advantage of Burbank as the next three batters all walked, with Ty Langford forcing in the tying run (Leef) and Dallas Kaauwai bringing home the winning run (Schaeffer).
Crescenta Valley added on insurance thanks to run-scoring singles from Lorenzo Respicio and Leef, a fielder’s choice from Schaeffer and a final score on a throwing error as 12 players batted in the inning.
Only a half inning before, Burbank broke a four-inning scoring drought in the top of the sixth.
With one out, right fielder Revin Diego singled and advanced to second on a fielding error that also allowed batter Kaydon Spears to reach.
A walk to pitcher Erik Gonzalez loaded the bases with one out and a run finally scored on a 4-6 fielder’s choice that appeared to have the potential to be an inning-ending double play, but was beaten out by Scott Breslin
While Burbank was three for four on stolen-base attempts, the visitors were also their own worst enemy on the base paths and occasionally killed their own momentum.
Perhaps the best example was the fifth inning, where Burbank had a walk, stolen base and wild pitch, but didn’t score a run.
The inning’s first out came on a failed advancement with no outs from second to third on a ball hit in front of the base runner.
A little later in the same inning, Crescenta Valley reliever Leef coaxed a rare 6-3-5 double play when a Burbank runner unsuccessfully tried to advance from second to third on a tight groundout to short.
Burbank knotted the score at 1 in its half of the second inning thanks to three walks that loaded the bases with one out.
Burbank’s Anton Prather cashed in one of those free passes with a sacrifice fly to right that scored Diego with the visiting team’s first run.
Crescenta Valley’s first run was of the controversial variety as Burbank pitcher Gonzalez notched strikeouts versus the first two batters in the top of the first.
Yet, after striking out Crescenta Valley’s Michael Chung on a 2-2 fastball, both the home plate and third base umpire convened during the at-bat of the next batter, Leef.
The meeting was prompted by a protest from the Crescenta Valley coaching staff, which claimed the count was 3-2 instead of the proper 2-2 strikeout.
The punch out was overturned, Chung was returned to the plate and walked on the very next pitch.
That decision cost Burbank a run when Chung stole second base and scored on a clutch two-out single to center from Drew Atherton, which gave Crescenta Valley the game’s first lead at 1-0.
Fortunately for Burbank, that was the lone run scored, as Crescenta Valley had a runner thrown out at the plate on a steal of home to end the inning.
Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.