NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The snug confines of Babe Herman Field felt downright spacious during Wednesday afternoon’s District 16 9-10 Baseball All-Star Tournament championship game, with Crescenta Valley pitcher Scott Vinceri and his Burbank counterpart Blaine Traxel each handcuffing their opposing lineups.
Well-struck balls were in short supply and, in the end, two unearned runs were all that separated the two squads, with Crescenta Valley advancing to the Section 2 Tournament beginning on Saturday in Quartz Hill on the strength of a 2-0 win.
“I was pretty happy because that was my second time pitching [against Burbank],” said Vinceri, who earned the save in his team’s 5-4 win on Monday that clinched a berth in the championship game. “It was pretty important [to keep my pitch count low] because I was able to stay in and pitch.”
Vinceri cruised through 5 1/3 innings on just 65 pitches with three hits allowed and nine strikeouts before being relieved by Lucas Martos-Repath. Mulder Paredes then battled back from being down, 0-2, to work a six-pitch walk, but Martos-Repath snuffed out the rally with a strikeout looking and a popout to shortstop.
“The pitching was the key,” Crescenta Valley Manager David Mulcahey said. “Scott’s been our horse ever since the All-Star Tournament started and he did a great job for us. He threw strikes and he kept the pitch count low, which allowed him to get all the way into the sixth inning, which was very key, and then Lucas did a great job closing it out for us.”
Traxel, who allowed five hits, struck out six to no walks and was left with a hard-luck complete-game loss.
“We had good effort, that was the thing,” Burbank Manager Michael Hooper said. “We kept swinging, we just didn’t get the bat on the ball the way that we should have.
“We’re not used to coming out like this, we’re used to coming out hitting strong. It just didn’t happen today.”
Crescenta Valley broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning when Tyler Cendejas reached on a bunt that was misplayed for an error with one out and scored on a double by Martos-Repath.
Any further damage in the inning was avoided when second baseman Brandon Giraldo turned an unassisted double play on an infield popout.
Back in business and looking to add to the lead in the bottom of the fourth, Crescenta Valley had runners at the corners with one out courtesy of a Jett Costibolo double followed by an error that allowed Justin Parrott to reach safely.
But Costibolo was cut down at the plate on a double-steal attempt and when pinch-hitter Luke Hempel dumped a base hit into right field, Parrott was tagged out after rounding third base too far on a 9-2-5 putout.
“We have a great defense, we rely on our defense and we rely on our pitching,” Hooper said. “We gave up a couple of runs on a couple of errors and we didn’t come through on the other end.”
A single by Ty Langford to open the bottom of the fifth inning led to a big insurance run for Crescenta Valley. Langford, who advanced to second base on a throwing error at the end of the play, was replaced on the base paths by Eathon Gabon, who advanced to third and then scored on two passed balls.
“We had to scratch and claw to get our runs,” Mulcahey said. “We only needed two, I guess, but for our offense to only get two runs is kind of surprising.”