GLENDALE — Third-place Pacific League finishes and wild-card postseason games are certainly something the Crescenta Valley High baseball team is not accustomed to.
And, while the Falcons might have struggled by program standards this season, on Tuesday, they did, in fact, prove they still belong in the postseason.
Behind a steady stream of contributions from all over the diamond, Crescenta Valley held off host Righetti for a 5-4 victory in a CIF Southern Section Division II wild-card game.
“We just went out there and played,” said Falcons freshman shortstop Nate Rousey, one of four freshmen starting for the Falcons, all of whom bat in the top five. “We were good on defense. Our pitchers did a good job of getting ground balls.”
The Falcons (16-10), who finished in a tie for third with Burbank in league, but lost a coin flip to enter the postseason as the league’s fourth seed, were forced to travel a round trip of roughly 340 miles.
And, the spoils of victory will once again send them on the road, this time to face No. 2 seed Yucaipa on Thursday.
Before they punched the ticket to Yucaipa, though, Crescenta Valley had to get past Righetti (13-14), the PAC-7 League’s second-place team.
“We came up here and stole a game,” said Falcons Coach Phil Torres, who got four innings and a win from Sean Elliott and a three-inning save from Jake Lehne. “Sean did a good job, he kept us in the game and did what he needed to do and then Jake came in and did what he needed to do.”
Elliott gave up four hits, three earned runs and had three strikeouts.
Torres was also impressed with the glove work of his shortstop Rousey, who, according to his coach, made at least five dazzling plays.
“That was a pretty phenomenal playoff performance,” Torres said.
Freshman outfielder Troy Mulcahey put the Falcons ahead with a two-run home run in the first inning, but Righetti answered immediately, knotting the contest in its half of the inning.
“We just kept pecking away,” Torres said.
Singles by Eddie Lee and Zack Torres preceded another base hit by Rousey that pushed Lee across for the go-ahead run.
A double steal by Elliott Surrey and Joe Sedano saw Surrey swipe home for a 4-2 lead in the fifth.
Troy Prasertsit’s RBI double later in the inning gave the Falcons a 5-2 cushion.
Prasertsit’s knock would stand as the game-winner, as Righetti answered with two runs in the fifth to draw within a run.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” said Rousey of Righetti’s late surge.
But Lehne quelled the Falcons’ anxiety and Righetti’s hopes when, with the tying run on third, he notched the last out of the game with his sixth strikeout.