NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Amazingly, the Crescenta Valley Sanfilippo Construction Major Softball team was just a step away from suffering a 10-run mercy rule loss.
Down, 9-0, a legitimate shot at pulling off a massive comeback seemed unlikely. The odds of making the long comeback got better each inning, right up until it had the tying run at the plate with one out in the top of the sixth inning.
Unfortunately for Sanfilippo, it’s comeback fell a bit short in a 13-9 loss to the Tujunga Thunder in an opening-round contest of the Tri-Cities District 16 Major Softball Tournament of Champions Little League championship game at Scholl Canyon Park on Tuesday night.
Fifth-seeded Sanfilippo (4-19-1) will next compete in an elimination contest at 4 p.m. Saturday at the same venue against a team to be determined, but at least can hang its hat on making a valiant comeback effort.
Fourth seeded Tujunga (10-13-2) built a 9-0 lead through the second inning, with the possibility of reaching the tournament-imposed 10-run mercy rule. However, Sanfilippo didn’t quit.
“Unfortunately, it’s the way we’ve played all year,” Sanfilippo Manager Mike Meyer said. “We start off slow and it takes maybe a couple of innings for us to wake up.
“Not once did we think it would get to the [10-run mercy rule]. We know now that we have to come back and just keep playing.”
The Thunder, who will meet the top-seeded Burbank Legends in a winner’s-bracket contest at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Scholl Canyon Park, held a seemingly comfortable 13-4 lead entering the final inning. But Tujunga starting pitcher Sam Reynolds began to tire, as she walked six in the inning — including five in a row — to make the game closer. A bases-loaded walk cut the lead to 13-9 with one out, but Reynolds buckled down to get a strikeout and a grounder to end the contest.
Sanfilippo, which hasn’t topped the Thunder in five meetings this season, got a team-best three hits from catcher Tiffany Briscoe. Sanfilippo finished with seven hits, including one each from Adela Altraca, Melanie Abzun and Kendall Jones.
“We just saw a good-hitting team over there,” Meyer said. “When they get a chance to score, they score.”
The Thunder scored four runs in the first, highlighted by a run-scoring single by Hannah Evans to make it 1-0. It pushed across five runs in the second to extend the lead to 9-0 with Jessica Spishak delivering a booming run-scoring triple to center to give the Thunder an 8-0 lead.
Marissa Morales hit a two-run home run in the fifth to give the Thunder two important runs they would later need.