Hundreds of area Little Leaguers took to various baseball and softball fields around Glendale, Montrose and La Crescenta this summer. A handful of local teams competed outside the area in their quest for championship glory.
There were more memorable home runs and outstanding pitching performances from a number of players en route to helping their respective teams win Tri-Cities and District 16 tournaments. The Crescenta Valley-Foothill Junior softball and Arroyo Seco Saints baseball squads extended their respective seasons into August.
Newly formed Crescenta Valley-Foothill became the first area District 16 Junior softball team to advance to the Western Regional Tournament since around 2000. This season marked the first time since 2004 that the Saints had captured the West Zone crown.
Crescenta Valley-Foothill second baseman Sammy Fabian said the team adjusted after becoming acquainted.
"We did well throughout, and we jelled each game," Fabian said. "We had a bunch of great players.
"We would have liked to have gone to the World Series. We still got far because we were all confident we could count on each other."
Crescenta Valley-Foothill center fielder Camie Ellingford said winning a pair of championships highlighted the season.
"Nobody thought we could get this far," Ellingford said. "If we worked together, then we knew we could win.
"Winning [the Southern California State Championship] was the biggest highlight for me."
The following is a recap of the area's Little League season.
BABE RUTH ALL-STARS
The Glendale 14-year old team, coached by Marcel Martinez, went 2-2 in the Southern California State Tournament. Glendale opened with a 12-2 win against Simi Valley before suffering a 6-4 loss against Westchester. Glendale rebounded with a 16-6 victory against Simi Valley before falling to Westchester, 7-5, in the championship game.
The Arroyo Seco Saints, featuring players from Crescenta Valley High, St. Francis and Glendale Community College and coached by St. Francis Coach Aaron Milam, captured the Southern California Region championship with a 4-0 victory against the Arcadia Astros at Jackie Robinson Field. Elliot Surrey registered a double and scored a run and capped the win with a two-inning save. Tei Vanderford had a clutch two-run triple in the game for the Saints.
The Saints then advanced to the Palomino West Zone Tournament at the Urban Youth Academy. Arroyo Seco opened with a 9-0 win against the Lacey Rainiers before earning a 10-4 victory against the Urban Youth Academy team. Arroyo Seco then advanced to the World Series with a 5-2 victory against the San Jose Giants.
"It's been eight seasons and nine years and this is sweet," Milam said. "I'm proud to be a part of this team. I challenged them today to extend their season and stick together and they did."
Arroyo Seco advanced to the eight-team, double-elimination Palomino League World Series at the Major League Baseball Urban Youth Academy. Unfortunately for the Saints, their stay didn't last long.
The Saints began the series with a 17-8 loss against Chinese Taipei. Arroyo Seco regrouped for a 7-1 win against Puerto Rico before registering a 5-4 victory against the Central Michigan Stars. Their season came to a close with a 10-0 loss against Chinese Taipei.
The Saints finished their season 34-6-1.
"I told them to keep their heads up," Milam said. "In the nine years we've been doing this we've had some great teams come through here, but this is by far the best Saints team we've ever had."
DISTRICT 16 TRI-CITIES
The Crescenta Valley Hollywood Studio Gallery Minor softball team got a grand slam from Michela Labellarte to register an 11-0 win against the Foothill Killer Bees in the championship game.
"We have a very solid team from top to bottom and they came together early in the season," Crescenta Valley Coach Joey Labellarte said.
In the Junior softball championship game, Foothill received a bases-loaded single from Sophie Georges in the bottom of the eighth to record a 7-6 win against Crescenta Valley Muir-Chase.
"It feels great, I was really glad I got the last hit because earlier in the game I didn't get any," Georges said. "I was just trying to focus and drive it."
The Red Hots defeated the Blaze in the Major softball championship contest.
In baseball, the 9-10 and Major Crescenta Valley teams won their respective tournaments.
The 9-10 team, coached by Brett Ramaker, outscored its opponents by an 81-6 margin in four tournament contests. Crescenta Valley took the championship with a 14-1 win against Burbank. Zach Feehan had three hits, including a grand slam.
"It's probably the best hitting group of 10-year-olds that I've seen," Ramaker said. "These guys are like lethal weapons at the plate, and it's hard to get the ball past them.
"The kids are expected to hit at least once a day in the cage. There's not a lot of time in the tournament season, so you have about two weeks to find a strategy and get them all on board. They've all responded and they expect to get on and have the next guy get them in."
The Major team, led by coach Mike Vinceri, wrapped up the championship with a 6-3 win against Burbank. Five of Crescenta Valley's home runs came via the long ball, including a three-run home run by Scott Vinceri.
Crescenta Valley's Junior baseball team posted a 3-2 win in eight innings against Foothill in an elimination game. It rallied for an improbable 15-14 win against Burbank in eight innings in the championship game in which Crescenta Valley scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Crescenta Valley's hopes to advance were dashed by Burbank, as Crescenta Valley suffered a 24-14 defeat in the if-necessary title contest.
The Crescenta Valley 10-11 softball team posted a 13-2 win against Vaquero/Jewel-City-Jewish War Veterans in the championship contest.
The Crescenta Valley-Foothill Junior softball team repeated as champions with a 13-9 win against Canyon-Country-Mission Hills in Canyon Country. CVFH collected 17 hits in the game.
Camie Ellingford had three hits, two runs batted in and a run scored for Crescenta Valley-Foothill.
"You gotta give them some credit, they came out to play today, they didn't make it easy," said CVFH Coach Will Thayer, who coached the team along with Tyson Howard and Drummond Schaffer. "It was a struggle."
Crescenta Valley opened the tournament with an 8-0 win against Canyon Country-Mission Hills and then posted a 7-0 victory against Quartz Hill.
Crescenta Valley's 10-11 softball team, coached by Joey Labellarte, reached the Section 2 Tournament before dropping a pair of games to host Quartz Hill.
The Crescenta Valley Major baseball team, coached by Mike Vinceri, looked strong throughout the first part of the tournament. Crescenta Valley reached the championship game with a 9-4 win against Quartz Hill. However, Quartz Hill bounced back to post a 15-4 win against Crescenta Valley in the championship contest and then captured the tournament with a 5-4 win versus Crescenta Valley in the if-necessary game.
The Crescenta Valley 9-10 baseball squad, coached by Brett Ramaker, saw its season come to a close with a 6-2 loss to Sherman Oaks.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
The CVFH Junior softball team began the Division III Tournament with a 10-0 win against Tri-Valley. Crescenta Valley-Foothill finished with 13 hits in the win. It then posted a 10-2 victory against South El Monte before recording a 9-0 victory against Victorville, as pitcher Jordan Lousararian struck out nine and scattered three hits to reach the tournament's championship.
In the tournament's final round, Alex Howard singled home Fabian with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give CVFH a 5-4 walk-off victory against Westchester Del Rey and send the locals to the Western Regional Tournament.
"I just hit it and ran," Howard said. "It is unbelievable, I have never won a game this big before."
WESTERN REGIONAL TOURNAMENT
The CVFH Junior softball team (10-2) opened the Western Regional Tournament with a convincing 14-3 win against Montana at Arthur Pack Regional Park in Tucson, Ariz. Howard finished with three hits for Crescenta Valley-Foothill, which received at least one hit from eight of its 10 players.
In its next contest, Crescenta Valley-Foothill suffered a 10-6 loss against Alaska, which limited the locals to five hits. CVFH shook off its first defeat of the summer by bouncing back to post a 10-1 victory against Montana. Lousararian had three hits, including a pair of triples, and drove in a team-high four runs.
"It felt great because we were all kind of down that we had our first loss in the whole tournament," Lousararian said. "[The win] helped to build our confidence back up and it kind of got us going again and now we have it back."
After a day of rain and lightning in the Tucson area, Crescenta Valley-Foothill found itself back on the diamond against Thornydale of Arizona in an elimination game. CVFH posted a 6-3 victory. Tiffany Bartamian had a key two-run double in the fifth inning.
Crescenta Valley-Foothill then met Gilroy of Northern California that same day and jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the fourth inning. Gilroy responded with eight runs in a row to take an 8-7 lead before Crescenta Valley-Foothill tied it at 8. Heavy rain and lightning then came across the region, forcing the game to be suspended in the fifth inning. The game resumed the next day and Gilroy picked up a 12-10 victory.