Crescenta Valley cruises ahead

TUJUNGA — Crescenta Valley All-Stars pitcher Jonathan Tyler kept Thursday’s opening-round game of the District 16 10-11 Baseball All-Star Tournament moving at a remarkably efficient pace.

The right-hander cruised through six innings on just 63 pitches to record a six-hit shutout and, as a result, his team is moving on to the second round of the winner’s bracket after controlling Tujunga, 6-0, at Tujunga Little League Fields.

“I just wanted to get my team the win,” said Tyler, who struck out five, walked none and also went three for four with two runs batted in. “I felt great today and I just felt like I was in control of all of my pitches.”

Tyler took the mound in the bottom of the first inning with a 2-0 lead in hand, thanks to a two-run home run by the second batter of the game, Greg Stupakis.

Stupakis’ straight shot to deep center field scored Andres Kim, who doubled to lead off the inning, which was one of four hits in Crescenta Valley’s first inning.

The only real tests for Tyler came in the first and second innings. Tujunga put runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the first on a single by Joey McClure and a double by Scottie McCutcheon, but Tyler induced the second out in the form of a popup to shortstop and struck out the next batter on three pitches.

In the bottom of the second, a two-out bunt single by Mallon Rizo put runners at first and second for Tujunga, but Tyler got the next batter to ground out to short. First-pitch outs were a big key for Tyler, as he recorded six of them in the game.

“Before the game, we went over the fact that we couldn’t walk anybody,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Tony Tellache, whose squad will play Burbank at 9 a.m. Saturday at Tujunga. “If we don’t walk anybody, we know our defense and our bats are gonna come alive and that’s exactly what happened.

“I’m really proud of them. They’ve worked really hard these last few weeks and the results are showing.”

The lead grew in the top of the third when Tyler singled to left field to plate Stupakis for the first of two runs, and again in the fourth, when Crescenta Valley added another run.

Colin Davidson led off the frame with a single and, with one out, Tujunga loaded the bases by issuing back-to-back walks. Tyler came up clutch at the plate again, driving in Travis Westhoff with an infield single.

Robert McNelis scored from third base on a wild pitch in the top of the fifth to give Tyler a six-run lead to work with six outs to go. It was far more than Tyler would need, as he was in his best form in the late innings.

Tyler, who allowed only two hits after the second inning, breezed through the fifth on just four pitches and worked around a leadoff bloop in the sixth to retire the side on his next nine pitches, including a pair of strikeouts.

“[We played] quality baseball with good defense, good defense is what we believe wins games,” Tellache said. “We know we have the bats to put runs on the board if we can make sure we get our outs.

“We try and take the pressure off our pitchers, let them throw strikes, and once he gets in a groove it’s kind of lights out for some of them.”

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