SOUTHEAST GLENDALE â€” Crescenta Valley High relief pitcher Sean Elliott thought he'd get some work in on Tuesday afternoon.
He had no inclination that he'd be called on in the second inning, however.
But Elliott came on earlier than he expected and came up clutch over the final six innings and, along with the hot bat of Lonnie Kauppila, propelled the Falcons to a Pacific League victory, as they staved off an inspired Glendale squad, 7-2, at Glendale High.
â€œSean saved us today,â€ said Kauppila, who went two for three with three runs batted in, a run and a walk. â€œHe just came out and did his thing.â€
Daniel Park pulled a solo home run to left field and Kauppila came around to score after doubling to put Crescenta Valley (3-3, 2-0 in league) out ahead, 2-0, in the first, but Glendale (2-8, 0-2) responded immediately, tying the game in its half of the inning.
The Nitros never stopped coming, pounding out nine hits to the Falcons' eight.
â€œI couldn't be happier with how they responded,â€ Glendale Coach Jon Keefer said. â€œWe played this game hard and had many chances to win.â€
But while the Nitros kept coming, the defending league champs just kept producing.
â€œEventually we came through,â€ said Kauppila, who knocked in senior brother Kris for the go-ahead run in the third on a groundout.
Hong Ahn reached base on a dropped third strike and Robert Escobar was hit by a pitch to start the first for Glendale.
Ahn would score on a Kyle Norton sacrifice fly before Michael Chico singled in Escobar for the 2-2 tie. It was the beginning of a big day for Chico, who went three for four.
Crescenta Valley starter Kyle Pomeroy would wiggle free from an ensuing bases-loaded jam, but gave up hits to Ian Conover, who went two for three, and Ahn to start the second.
He retired both batters he faced in the second and was aided by catcher Joe Sedano throwing out a would-be base stealer.
â€œI was kind of expecting to get in some work,â€ Elliott said. â€œI wasn't expecting to come in in the second inning.â€
Elliott (1-0) struck out six in six innings of shutout work, giving up five hits and working out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. He then retired the side in order in both the sixth and seventh.
The Falcons distanced themselves with two more runs in the fourth.
Sean Carroll led off the stanza with a triple off the right-field fence. He'd later score on an error â€” it was one of five unearned runs given up by Glendale.
It helped to overshadow a steady outing by Glendale starter Christopher Osuna (0-3), who went the distance in the loss.
Travis Feldman came around to score on a Matt Ashby single to make it 5-2 in the fourth.
Feldman was robbed of a two-run extra-base hit in the fifth, however, as Escobar made a brilliant diving catch in center field to end the inning, leaving Lonnie Kauppila and Jake Lehne stranded.
Three errors and a two-run single to right by Lonnie Kauppila led to Kris Kauppila and Zack Torres scoring to make it 7-2.
Despite the loss, Keefer believes the outing was a step in the right direction for his club.
â€œWe hit the ball, we got runners on base, there's many good things to take out of this,â€ he said. â€œWe played with a lot of heart today.â€
For the Falcons, they rebounded from a shaky start, just as they're doing with their season. Having lost their first three games, the Falcons have now won their last three.
â€œWe were a little rusty at the beginning,â€ Lonnie Kauppila said. â€œIt's clicking right now.â€