NORTHEAST GLENDALE — With his team clinging to a three-run lead and the top of the lineup due up with one out in the fifth inning, Crescenta Valley Gangi Builders Coach Frank Gangi knew precisely who to bring in to get out of the jam.
From the start, Gangi had faith that reliever Will Lombardo could rescue the Builders.
Lombardo struck out the two batters he faced in the fifth and then preserved the victory in the sixth to help lead the Gangi Builders to a 7-5 win against the Crescenta Valley Rountree Glass on Thursday night at Pacific Park in a Tri-Cities Major Baseball Tournament winner's-bracket contest.
"Will, throughout the season, has been our ace closer," said Gangi, whose team will battle Foothill South Beach or the Tujunga Cardinals in a winner's-bracket contest at 10 a.m. Saturday at Pacific Park. "We saw that the top of the order was up and we know Will is our money player.
"He's more than just an ace. He's our captain."
Lombardo came in and struck out Justin Rountree and Patrick Moreno on three fastballs each.
Lombardo, a right-hander who began the game at shortstop, knew the situation.
"I've been successful pitching against them before," said Lombardo, who struck out the side in the sixth while allowing a run. "My arm felt real strong and I knew I could go out there and throw harder.
"I went out there and I was able to keep throwing."
Rountree, which will face South Beach or the Cardinals in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Saturday at Tujunga Little League Fields, jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on a run-scoring single by Moreno and a passed ball. However, the Gangi Builders pushed across five runs in the second to take a 5-2 advantage. Max Meyer delivered a two-run single to right to give the Gangi Builders a 3-2 lead.
"The bottom of our order [of Jacob Poole, David Heckmann and Kurt McNevin] found a way to get on base to set things up," Gangi said. "They are tough outs and that made the difference."
Michael Gee cut the lead to 5-3 with a run-scoring single in the second for Rountree Glass, but the Gangi Builders got an RBI single from Lombardo and a sacrifice fly from Meyer to make it 7-3 in the third. Rountree Glass made it 7-4 in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk to Shawn Kim.
Rountree Glass Coach Rich Moreno said the Gangi Builders were a stern test.
"They are a tough team, but we were able to fight to the end," Moreno said. "They had a few more hits."