La Crescenta heats up

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — In all facets of the game, it was a near perfect start to the Southern California All-Star Tournament.

The pitching was almost unhittable, the defense was flawless and the offense was balanced.

It all added up to an easy night for the La Crescenta Babe Ruth 15-year-old team.

Richie Alfonso pitched a complete game two-hitter and Jonny Psaltis had a game-changing three-run double in the third inning to lead La Crescenta to a 7-0 first-round victory against Simi Valley on Saturday at Stengel Field.

"This was a big momentum starter," said Alfonso, a sophomore at St. Francis.

Alfonso started strong Saturday. He did not allow a hit until Dustin Halpern had a bloop single to left field to start the fourth inning. Simi Valley couldn't produce another hit until the seventh inning.

Alfonso tossed 112 pitches, 63 for strikes, and struck out eight. He also walked four.

"We couldn't have gotten a better pitching performance from Richie Alfonso," La Crescenta Coach Marcel Martinez said.

He also couldn't have asked for a better performance from Psaltis, a sophomore at Crescenta Valley High.

Psaltis doubled in the second inning and scored on an error and had an opportunity to extend La Crescenta's lead in the third. With two outs and the bases loaded, Psaltis crushed a 1-2 pitch to the left-field fence, scoring Dakota Low, Will Davis and Johnny Karalis.

"[Psaltis is] one of our better players," Martinez said. "He's a team leader. He gets clutch hits like that all the time with two outs."

Added Psaltis: "Once the pitch was up, I just wanted to put the ball in play."

His teammates helped him by remaining patient at the plate.

Simi Valley's two pitchers struggled with their control, tossing 88 pitches, 46 for strikes.

La Crescenta drew four walks, and each player scored after a free pass. Low and Karalis each walked when they scored in the third. Low also scored in the fourth after a five-pitch walk, and Ryan Garcia added a run in the fourth.

"Walks help out a lot," Psaltis said. "It just puts runners on base."

La Crescenta has high hopes this year following its early exit in 2009.

Its 14-year-old team — which also featured Davis and Psaltis, among others — suffered a heartbreaking eight-inning 6-5 loss to North End in a loser's bracket elimination game of the Southern California All-Star Tournament at Stengel Field last year.

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