TUJUNGA — Glendale West Coast and Crescenta Valley MJB each put on a display of pitching and defense Saturday that was well worthy of the Little League District 16 Junior Baseball Tri-Cities Tournament of Champions title.
There could only be one winner though, and it was MJB that emerged victorious, 3-2, to win the tournament championship.
MJB starter Justin Woodward and reliever Harry Pessy combined for an eight-inning no-hitter in the win.
It was also Woodward who drove in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth to break a 2--2 tie.
"I wanted to put something in the gap and try to get [next batter] Troy [Mulcahey] up," said Woodward of his flare over the head of West Coast's second baseman and into shallow right field, which scored Ethan De La Torre from second base for the win. "It feels really good, it's something I've never really done before."
The bottom of the eighth inning began with a strategic gambit by West Coast Coach Frank Cuccinello — an intentional walk to the first batter, De La Torre.
The next batter, Pessy, fouled off six straight pitches from Mark Attarian before moving De La Torre to second on a fielder's choice groundout on the 12th pitch of the at bat.
A flyout to right field put West Coast (23-2-3) one out away from continuing the game, before Woodward's game-winning hit on a 1-0 count.
"We put the lead runner on because of Pessy's speed," Cuccinello said. "It didn't work, but you never know. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't."
Offense was at a premium for both sides throughout much of the game.
West Coast starter Anthony Cuccinello went seven strong innings before reaching the maximum pitch count allowed.
He surrendered two earned runs on two hits, but did not allow his first base hit until the bottom of the sixth inning.
With two outs in the sixth, Woodward singled to left field and scored on a double to deep left center by Mulcahey.
That hit tied the game at two, as West Coast had been able to manufacture a pair of runs over the first six innings without the benefit of a hit.
In the first inning, Anthony Cuccinello reached on an error and scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead.
MJB (17-4-2) pulled even in the bottom of the first with James Heinman scoring on a rundown play.
West Coast reclaimed the lead in the fourth inning on another passed ball, which allowed Grant Grigorian, who had walked, to come home andscore from third base.
For MJB, Saturday's tournament win was the culmination of a three-year process.
"We've basically had the same core group of kids for the last three years — Mulcahey, Woodward, Pessy, Adam Dassad and Heinman — but every year we were just a little short," Coach Phil Farac said. "That group, along with the additions that we had, all played together as a team.
"Today I feel that they played a real baseball game."