LA CRESCENTA ? Its playoff ride is still going, and it's gaining steam.
The Crescenta Valley High softball team's journey in the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs will continue for at least another couple of days ? and possibly another week.
Bloomington ? Crescenta Valley's second-round opponent Tuesday ? tried to slow down the streaking Falcons, but the Bruins simply got steamrolled.
Crescenta Valley exploded for seven third-inning runs and 12 hits overall in posting a 9-3 victory at home.
The Falcons (22-7) next play top-seeded Oaks Christian (26-5) in a quarterfinal contest at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at a site to be determined by a coin flip.
Crescenta Valley ? which defeated Highland, 4-3, in its opening-round game ? tied the score at 2 in the second inning on Caitlyn Cox's single that plated Emily Hanson, who scored twice.
The Falcons had a blistering third inning that blew the game open and shocked the Bruin contingent.
Stephanie Ziemann ? who usually bats first but was placed in the No. 8 spot in the order Tuesday ? started the inning with a double. Zarah Montes followed by reaching base on one of the Bruins' two errors in the inning, as Ziemann scored.
Then Sydney Vermillion singled, Lainey DePompa reached on an error, Baillie Kirker doubled and Hanson singled.
After Bruin pitcher Destinee Sanchez (19-5) finally recorded the first out of the inning, Ashleigh Viers-Gordillo of Crescenta Valley continued the onslaught with a run-scoring single.
Ziemann put the exclamation point on the inning with a two-run double before being thrown out at third for the final out.
In all, 11 Falcons stepped to the plate, six garnered hits and four others drove home runs against Sanchez, who tossed 35 pitches in the inning.
Berry surprised Bloomington by starting freshman Kali Cancelosi (5-0) in the circle.
"They videotaped everything we did [in our first-round playoff win]," Berry said. "They taped the way we walked and the way we talked.
"We knew they'd be ready to see [regular starting pitcher Kelsey] Brumm. Brumm has done a great job all year. It was a hard decision to make and we had to throw them off."
Cancelosi struck out four and scattered eight hits.
Whoever is in the circle Thursday, the Falcons like their chances against Oaks Christian.
Said Vermillion: "This team can go as far as we want."
SANTA ANA ? According to the first-base umpire, a pulled foot and how ever many inches it was separated from the bag, were the reasons the Crescenta Valley High baseball team's season ended, once again, in Santa Ana.
According to Falcon coaches, players and fans, an atrocious call was the reason Crescenta Valley's year concluded in Tuesday evening's 4-3 loss to host Mater Dei in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division I playoffs.
"He called [the first baseman] off the bag," said Falcon Coach Phil Torres, who asked the home-plate umpire for help after the initial call was made. "There's no way he's gonna overrule the call and end the game there."
The controversial play came with the bases loaded, two outs and the Falcons leading, 3-2, in the bottom of the seventh.
Monarch Ernesto Rangel dribbled the ball to third base and subsequently slid into first base. The throw clearly beat him, but Rangel was ruled safe and the tying run had come across.
"I wasn't surprised [by the call]. I knew it was going to be bang-bang," said Mater Dei Coach Burt Call, whose team improved to 16-12-1.
"It was a close call and we were fortunate."
One pitch later, Monarch Mike Orozco had himself a walk-off single and the Falcons (22-5) had a controversial loss to stomach.
"It's tough to come down here and lose these ball games," Torres said. "Especially when you're one out away."
Falcon Dustin Emmons had clutched up in the top of the seventh and put Crescenta Valley in a position to win.
His opposite-field single to right drove in Chris Stroh for the go-ahead run. Still, the Falcons left the bases loaded in the inning and for the second time in the game.
"We had some opportunities and we stranded some guys," Torres said.
Nonetheless, the Falcons had taken an early 1-0 lead when Grant Hardyment scored on a wild pitch in the second.
After two solo home runs eventually put the Monarchs ahead, Kris Kauppila, who had two hits, as did Emmons, tied the game in the fifth on a Chad Nacapoy groundout.