It was a classic pitchers' duel. As in two pitchers from one team out-dueling an overmatched opponent.
All season, Crescenta Valley High relied on pitchers Jordan Olson and Josh Herman, so it was only fitting that the two combined on a four-hitter to lead the Falcons to a 7-1 victory over Esperanza in the Southern Section Division I final Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
Crescenta Valley becomes the first baseball team from the Valley or Ventura County to win the Division I title since Hoover in 1975.
Many believed Crescenta Valley (25-3-1), which won the first section baseball title in school history, didn't have a chance against the defending champion Aztecs (21-8-1), who have won three section championships and were playing their sixth final in 13 years.
But Olson and Herman showed that newcomers can do just as well.
"I'm glad it went this way," Olson said. "Josh always has my back and I always have his."
Olson (11-1), who pitched 5 1/3 innings in a semifinal victory over Yucaipa on Tuesday, worked 4 2/3 innings Saturday and exhausted the 10 innings per week allotted each pitcher by the section.
He allowed one run on three hits and struck out eight.
Herman, the gritty No. 2 pitcher, struck out the first batter he faced, Kevin Snapp, on three pitches. The rest was less of a snap--he walked three in his 2 1/3-inning stint, but was bailed out by the defense.
Right fielder Nate Barber threw out Mike Harrison trying to stretch a single into a double to end the sixth inning, and shortstop Bruce McReynolds and second baseman Mark McCauley turned a double play to end the game.
Esperanza, with 32 players in uniform, was deep, but it was their shallow playing that got them in trouble.
With two out in the third inning, John Barbaro crushed a double over center fielder Harrison's head. Harrison raced back about 80 feet but the ball ticked off his glove for a double, allowing Barber and Tim Balkey to score and break a 1-1 tie.
Trailing, 1-0, in the top of the second, Crescenta Valley's No. 8 hitter, Luke Peterson, took advantage of a shallow-playing Esperanza outfield and drilled a shot to right field for a run-scoring double off right fielder Matt Colin's glove.
Barber crushed a two-run home run into the left-field seats, the fourth home run in four games at Dodger Stadium on Saturday.
Later in the second inning, pinch-hitter Jesse McReynolds crushed a two-run double over Colin and the Falcons took a 6-1 lead.
"They took a chance that we weren't going to hit the ball hard," Crescenta Valley Coach Phil Torres said. "And if they saw us Tuesday, it looked like we hit with a wet newspaper."
* SWAN SONG: Jim Bastion, from Oxnard, completed a 23-year career by coaching South Hills to a third section title. C18