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Erickson powers Crescenta Valley baseball into CIF quarterfinals

Erickson powers Crescenta Valley baseball into CIF quarterfinals
Crescenta Valley High's Brian Erickson hit a three-run home run to lead the Falcons to a 5-3 second-round win on Tuesday at Fountain Valley. (Kevin Chang/Staff Photographer)

FOUNTAIN VALLEY — Thanks in part to a three-run home run from senior Brian Erickson, the Crescenta Valley High baseball team will continue its postseason journey.

The blast was the lynchpin of a 5-3 victory by the visiting third-seeded Falcons in Tuesday’s CIF Southern Section Division II second-round playoff triumph at Sunset League third-place Fountain Valley.

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With the win, Pacific League champion Crescenta Valley (26-4) advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2015 and will host third-seeded Citrus Belt League co-champion Yucaipa (25-5) on Friday at Stengel Field.

“We just had to keep battling,” Crescenta Valley coach Phil Torres said. “That’s what I told the kids, just keep battling. That’s a Division 1 team. Fountain Valley is a Division 1 team, to be honest, and the Sunset League is a tough league. I knew it would be a tough game. We just fought.”

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The Falcons overcame a late rally from the Barons (19-12), who hoped for some good karma.

Fountain Valley invited the school’s tennis coach, Harshul Patel, to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday’s game. Patel coached the boys’ tennis team to the first CIF title in program history on Friday.

Patel’s pitch was right over the middle of the plate. But so was the one that Erickson deposited over the fence in left-center field in the top of the third inning to help the Falcons to their 19th consecutive triumph.

Falcons starting pitcher Trevor Beer, a senior left-hander, got his second win in as many postseason starts this season. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits. He walked seven and struck out six.

Crescenta Valley’s players and coaches did not necessarily agree with the strike zone all game long, but the Falcons kept their composure.

Crescenta Valley scored runs in each of the first two innings against Fountain Valley and starting pitcher Jackson Ouellette. Erickson’s two-out single in the top of the first scored Will Grimm.

J.D. Schaffer was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the second and he scored on a two-out single by Isaac Sung.

After Grimm and Vincent Parrott led off the third with singles to left, Beer’s groundout to first moved them over. Fountain Valley coach Deric Yanagisawa pulled Ouellette, putting in sophomore Cole Wentz.

Erickson worked a full-count before the home run, which gave Crescenta Valley a 5-0 lead.

Conrad Villafuerte scored for the hosts in the bottom of the third, but the Barons left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth. Beer induced a soft lineout to center by Sebastian Murillo.

Villafuerte’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth plated Jake Bitzer and another run scored when Murillo reached on an error. With runners at the corners and one out, reliever Luke Hempel got Noah Amenta to hit into a double play and get the Falcons out of the jam.

Shea Adame reached on a two-out walk in the bottom of the seventh before Hempel got Bitzer to ground to shortstop.

“It came down to they were able to get some clutch hits with two outs,” Yanagisawa said. “We left 11 guys on base today and that’s what it came down to. But you’ve got to give credit to their pitcher. He hung in there.”

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