GLENDALE — A perfect run through the Junior Softball Tri-Cities Tournament of Champions and a perfect record against a familiar foe went by the wayside for the Crescenta Valley-Vaquero Bullets on Friday evening.
The host Tujunga Intensity scored six runs in the second inning and never looked back, defeating the Bullets, 11-7, at Scholl Canyon Ballfields to create a winner-take-all championship game at 1 p.m. on Saturday afternoon back at Scholl.
The victory was the first in five attempts for Tujunga versus the Bullets this season and avenged an opening-round TOC defeat on June 1.
“It's hard to beat a team five times in a row,” Crescenta Valley-Vaquero Coach Drumond Schaffer said. “I think they just wanted it more and came up with the big hits.”
Every time it appeared the Bullets nabbed momentum and would climb back into Friday's contest, the Intensity had an answer.
Crescenta Valley-Vaquero took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the first on a solo blast from Esme Piedra, who finished two for four with a homer, two RBI and two runs scored.
That score, however, was answered by a six-run second inning from Tujunga, which collected five hits in the frame, including a pivotal two-out, three-run double from Ashley Wright, who was three for four with four RBI and three runs scored.
To its credit, Crescenta Valley-Vaquero rallied for three runs in the bottom of the second, thanks in part to three errors from the Intensity, to pull within 6-4.
Again, though, the Intensity struck back two innings later with a three-run rally fueled behind a two-run single from Ryelle Cox (three for five with three RBI) to go up 9-4.
Even though the Bullets responded with a run in the bottom half of the fourth on a single and two stolen bases from Camie Ellingford, once again Tujunga countered with its own run in the top of the fifth to lead, 10-5.
“We showed a lot of resiliency tonight,” Tujunga Skipper Paul Neuenswander said. “[Crescenta Valley-Vaquero] has beaten us every time this year, including in this tournament.
“But the girls came out different tonight and now we have a chance to win a championship and we've got to beat these guys again.”
The closest the Bullets came was in the very next inning when a run-scoring wild pitch followed by a run-scoring single from Piedra brought the home team to within, 10-7, at the end of five.
Yet, that's the closest the Bullets came, as Tujunga tacked on a run in the
seventh to clinch the
“We made too many errors out there that were costly,” Schaffer said. “That's the biggest thing we have to change.
“Now, for our players, this is a championship game and we're going to have to play our best to win.”