GLENDALE — With one more win, the Glendale Foothill Hawks would claim the District 16 Minor baseball title. With one more win, their opponent, Glendale Jewel City/Jewish War Veterans Mauerhan Plumbing, would earn a chance for a winner-takes-all game with the Hawks on Monday for the district crown.
The two squads met up on Saturday afternoon at Babe Herman Field and it quickly became clear that there would be no more games to play Monday. The Hawks dismantled their opposition, holding them hitless throughout the mercy-rule shortened game, as they defeated Mauerhan, 12-0, in four innings to claim the District 16 Minor baseball championship.
“We played this way all year,” said Hawks Manager Mike Magro, whose team outscored their opponents, 28-2, over their three TOC tournament games. “They just executed and that is all we ask them to do. It was a big game for them and they made plays.”
The Hawks seized control of the contest with a four-run bottom of the second inning. Mauerhan pitcher Greg Krikorian, who took over on the mound to start the bottom of the first after the original starter could not produce any power on his pitches during warm-up, held the Hawks scoreless in the first inning while striking out two. Krikorian struck out two more in the second but also walked five Hawks in the frame, with two of those free passes bringing in the first two runs of the game. Hawk Luke Johnson drove in the next two runs with a double to left-center field and his team led 4-0 after two.
Hawk pitcher RJ DeLeon, who pitched three hitless innings to earn the win, then struck out the side in order in the top of the third on just 10 pitches.
“Our pitching has been just phenomenal,” Magro said.
The Hawks then rang up eight runs in the bottom of the third to blow the game wide open. Walker Klauda got it going with a run-scoring single. Nathan Heller was next, driving in two runs with a single to right field. Johnson then got his third RBI of the championship game with a groundout. The score became 9-0 on a wild pitch just before the advantage was pushed into double digits by back-to-back run-producing doubles off the bats of William Magro and DeLeon. DeLeon scored the final run of the District 16 tournament on a wild pitch.
The Hawks closed the door in the fourth inning, when Magro struck out the side in order.
“However old you get, you will always be a 2014 District 16 champion,” Johnson said of what he’ll take away from Saturday’s win.
In the end, the Mauerhan’s only base runners were Gabriello M. Dermott and Greg Krikorian, who led off the first and second innings, respectively, with walks.
“Mauerhan Plumbing is a young team,” coach David Loke said. “We’ve worked hard to get to where we are at and we’ve surpassed most people’s expectations this year. ... We’ve made a lot of progress this year.”
The game almost never happened, as the Plumbers, who reached Saturday’s game with a 7-4 victory in a game that reached its time limit on Thursday over the Burbank Cardinals, were still two players short at the scheduled time of the first pitch due to traffic issues and other complications. But Little League rules give teams a 15-minute grace period and the Jewel City champions used it all. Fourteen minutes into the grace period, the second remaining player arrived and the teams took the field.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch [the Hawks] progress the last few years,” Loke said. “The Hawks have worked hard and deserve all of this.”