SIERRA MADRE — The Crescenta Valley Major Baseball All-Star team had to fight for its chance to play for the Section 2 championship.
The road to the title game became an uphill battle for Crescenta Valley after it fell in the opening round of the tournament to Encino. But the locals battled through the loser’s bracket, even beating Encino to earn their title shot.
That shot came Wednesday and if Crescenta Valley hoped to take home the championship it would have to defeat Encino for a second straight night. Unfortunately for CV, it wasn’t able to complete the comeback, as Encino hit three home runs and earned an 8-4 victory in an if-necessary game at Heasley Field in Sierra Madre.
Crescenta Valley, the District 16 champion, earned its spot in the title game after beating District 40 champion Encino, 14-3, on Tuesday. In that game, the locals hammered four home runs.
But it was Encino which ruled with the long ball Wednesday, delivering three home runs, including a grand slam.
“When we lost to [Encino] the first time, we knew we could come back and make it to the championship,” said Crescenta Valley center fielder Vincent Parrott, who hit a three-run home run in the second inning. “We have a really good team and we know that we have good hitters. We just knew we had to play hard every game to get there.”
Crescenta Valley could muster just four hits against Encino. The team was also hampered by some errors that kept innings alive for Encino.
“We just didn’t have the bats tonight,” Crescenta Valley Manager Brett Ramaker said. “Their pitcher also did a real good job and he kept us off-balance a little bit. But we were just not aggressive enough at the plate and we just didn’t hit the ball.
“We had some errors that didn’t help us. We just came up a little short.”
The game began with both teams’ pitchers throwing well in the first inning, with Crescenta Valley’s Zach Feehan striking out the side and Encino’s Drew Bowser striking out two.
But Crescenta Valley made noise in the third inning, pushing across three runs to take an early lead. With two outs, Hunter Cuneo began the rally with a single to center field. Sam Kunz followed with a walk. That brought up the top of the order with Parrott. The first pitch he faced, Parrot connected on a towering no-doubt home run to straight-away center field that traveled at least 250 feet.
“That was a nice home run by Vincent,” Ramaker said. “It was a fastball down the middle and he took advantage of it and sent it on its way.”
Encino was able to whittle the lead down to 3-2 with two runs in the third inning.
Taking advantage of a Crescenta Valley error and hitting two singles, Encino loaded the bases in the fourth inning. That set the stage for Bowser, who powered a Feehan pitch over the fence in right-center field for a grand slam that gave Encino a 6-3 lead.
Crescenta Valley responded and got a run back in its half of the fourth. Parrott reached on an error and scored on a base hit to right by Braeden Bentzen.
Encino tacked on two runs in the fifth on solo home runs by Bowser (three for four with two home runs and five runs batted in) and Vincent Peete.
Feehan had the other hit for Crescenta Valley, a single.
“It says a lot about this team that we were able to come back and make it to the championship game,” Ramaker said. “But it’s no surprise. We have 13 or 14 kids who are great ball players and they will continue to be great ball players when they leave Little League.”