NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Power bats and slick fielding weren’t just the norm for the Crescenta Valley Major All-Star baseball team throughout the District 16 tournament the last five days.
Those hallmarks were also present in Tuesday afternoon’s championship game versus host Burbank, as Crescenta Valley scored five of six runs via the long ball and came up with some clutch defensive plays in a 6-3 victory at Babe Herman Field.
With the victory, Crescenta Valley advances to Saturday’s Section 2 Tournament opener at El Dorado Little League Field in Lancaster, where it will play Encino at 6 p.m.
“Some of our sticks that had been hitting the snot out of the ball took off tonight,” Crescenta Valley Manager Michael Vinceri said. “Saying that, though, our pitching and defense has been solid the entire three games.”
Crescenta Valley’s defense was clutch Tuesday, particularly as Burbank mounted its last stand.
Burbank trailed, 6-2, entering the bottom of the sixth, but placed two runners on behind a single and a hit batsman.
Burbank’s Erik Gonzalez then ratcheted up the drama when he rifled a first-pitch single to right field that easily plated Damien Flores from second.
Yet, the single may have been most defining thanks to the head’s-up play of right fielder Michael Choi, who hit his infield cutoff man as Crescenta Valley was able to take out Burbank’s other base runner at third for the inning’s first out.
The putout was followed by two consecutive outs as Crescenta Valley prevailed, 6-3.
Crescenta Valley initially created some space thanks to a four-run fifth that turned a hotly-contested 2-1 game into a more relaxed 6-1 affair.
Starting pitcher Scott Vinceri delivered the biggest blow when he rocketed a 1-2 fastball over the right-center fence for a three-run shot. Crescenta Valley also added a run on a fielding error.
Vinceri’s homer was the second of the contest as third basemen Jett Castibab smashed a two-run homer on the first offering in the top of the first to put Crescenta Valley up, 2-0.
“It felt good to hit one clean off the bat, especially since this is a new bat,” said Castibab, who was making his tournament debut after returning from vacation in Canada. “I just decided to jump on the pitch if it was something good.”
Burbank, which lost, 15-1, in its first meeting with Crescenta Valley on Sunday, proved itself an entirely different team Tuesday evening.
Burbank scratched back with a run in the third when Riley Hooper walked with the bases loaded and one out to force in Mulder Paredes.
Yet, there was no further rally as Vinceri induced a 3-2 fielder’s choice at the plate that was brilliantly executed by Choi, who was at first base, and by catcher Castibab.
The out was followed by a come-backer that ended the inning.
Burbank added an additional run in the fifth on a towering solo homer from Anton Prather that cleared the scoreboard in center field.
“The goal today was just to compete. We knew that CV had a very strong team and took it to us the first time we played them,” Burbank Coach Lewis Oberlander said. “We made some adjustments and kept it in close territory the whole game.”