NORTHEAST GLENDALE — It took a little bit extra from both teams to decide the Tri-Cities Junior Softball Tournament of Champions title game between Crescenta Valley Kiwanis and the Burbank Fusion on Thursday night at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields.
The see-saw affair lasted over three hours and went nine innings with a combined 27 runs and required starting pitchers who had been relieved needing to come back on the mound to close it out, but in the end, Kiwanis prevailed, 15-14, to claim the championship.
Burbank scored six runs in the sixth inning to tie up the ballgame before Crescenta Valley regained the lead with one run in their half of the sixth. Burbank then took the lead for the first time all game with four runs in the seventh inning, but Crescenta Valley scratched out three more runs to force extra innings, and later scored two in the ninth to win it after giving up one in the top half.
“We’re used to coming back, but usually we’re coming back from an early deficit,” Kiwanis Coach Will Thayer said. “They have always showed a great ability to come back.”
It didn’t look like Kiwanis would need to come back from anything, given it held a 9-3 advantage going into the sixth inning. But that’s when Burbank’s offense went off, plating six runs, highlighted by a two-run home run from Alicia Rodriguez.
Hailey Beckmann completed the comeback with a two-run single.
Again in a clutch situation, Beckmann stepped up to bat in the ninth inning and came through, connecting on a double that gave the Fusion a 14-13 lead, which put them three outs away from capturing the championship.
Crescenta Valley had other things in mind, as the game would soon see the fourth tie in four innings. With Bella Hernandez on second base and Adela Alatraca on first, Olivia Thayer’s offering was hit back to the circle, drawing an attempt at a double play. But instead, a throwing error to first base allowed Hernandez to score the game-tying run and Alatraca to get on third base with one out.
Clair O’Conner then did what she was asked to do — hit a fly ball deep enough so that Alatraca could tag up and score the game-winning run.
“I told Clair to look for something up that she can drive, so we can get the tag,” Thayer said. “I had told our team that their pitcher is having trouble throwing strikes, so we just had to get runners and we finally managed to win it.”
It would be the second time Kiwanis would need to score runs in the bottom half of an inning or go home. In the seventh, O’Conner again was instrumental in the team’s victory, as her single tied the game at 13 and completed a three-run rally to force an eighth inning.
“The girls, we had battled,” Fusion Coach Randy Beckmann said. “We only had nine girls so we’re proud of them.”
Had Burbank won the ballgame, the two teams would have to play an if-necessary second championship game scheduled for today.