NORTHEAST GLENDALE — With a resounding start to the season, the Crescenta Valley High baseball team's ascent to reclaim its spot atop the Pacific League was seemingly headed in the right direction.
That was until the Falcons, ranked fourth in CIF Southern Section Division II, ran into the roadblock that was the archrival Arcadia Apaches — the two-time reigning league champions.
Despite throwing their best three arms at their rivals, the Falcons never found their way and looked far from their best in a 4-2 defeat to the Apaches on Friday night at Stengel Field in a first-place league showdown.
"I think we all feel if we play our best game, we can beat them," said Falcons shortstop Cole Currie. "But they play well. League goes through them and they showed it again tonight."
With the game tied, 2-2, entering the seventh, CV's Troy Mulcahey, who had come in to relieve starter Kyle Murray in the fifth, issued a five-pitch walk with two outs. Falcons Coach Phil Torres wasted no time in bringing in Elliott Surrey. Surrey got behind 3-0, with his third pitch — a mid-level fastball — getting past catcher Cam Silva and allowing the go-ahead run into scoring position. Three pitches later, Arcadia's Tyler Dominguez lined a single to short left. Left fielder Troy Prasertsit's throw home was on line, but short of the plate and Silva bobbled it, allowing George Papavasiliou to score. Dominguez later added an insurance run on a double steal, scoring just ahead of the Falcons getting the runner at second.
The stanza summed up the Falcons' effort in Torres' eyes, as he characterized his team's play as, "scared" and "immature."
"We didn't pitch well, we didn't receive well," Torres said. "You gotta make that throw [from shallow left field].
"I don't think anybody could be happy about how they played. At least I hope not."
The Falcons (14-3, 4-1) fell into second place with the loss, while Arcadia (14-3, 5-0) extended its league winning streak to 22 games.
Murray threw four innings, allowing two runs (one earned), six hits, striking out six and walking two. Mulcahey then came on and went 2 2/3, giving up two hits, two walks, hitting a batter and striking out two. The winning run was charged to him, but was allowed by Surrey, who faced two hitters and allowed a pair of singles.
The Falcons trio was forced to work through trouble all game, none of them able to turn in a 1-2-3 inning and getting lost in a slew of deep counts.
"I think our pitching was shaky all day," Torres said. "Our pitching staff got a little soft."
Arcadia had 10 hits, but Crescenta Valley countered with just four.
"We gotta do a better job on offense," said Currie, who turned in an excellent day in the field at short and also went one for four with a run batted in. "Our pitchers pitch their butts off every night and we gotta give them more than two runs, that's inexcusable."
Prasertsit had a pair of hits, including a two-out single in the bottom of the fifth that tied the game at 2. For the most part, though, the Falcons were kept in check by Arcadia sidearmer KJ Edson, who went the distance, allowing two runs, four hits, two walks and striking out three in an economic 74 pitches that an included a seven-pitch, 1-2-3 inning to close the game.
"They've got the best pitcher in the league and they proved it again," Torres said. "He's tough."
Arcadia gained a 1-0 advantage in the fourth after the first two batters reached on a single and catcher's interference and then took second and third on a passed ball. A perfect bunt single on a squeeze play scored the run with no outs, before Murray struck out the side. An unearned run scored on a double-play ball to make it 2-0 in the fifth.
CV finally countered in the fifth when Silva was hit by a pitch and moved around to third on a grounder and a wild pitch before an RBI groundout from Currie scored him. Surrey then drew a walk and Mulcahey was given an intentional pass to bring up Prasertsit, who dribbled a ball to third that went off the diving third baseman's glove to score Surrey from second.
Mulcahey induced a lineout to an outstretched Currie to end the sixth with the bases loaded full of Apaches. But the Falcons couldn't pitch out of trouble in the seventh.
"We just didn't play our game," said Currie, whose team will look to regroup against host Pasadena on Tuesday with a rematch against Arcadia looming in the season finale on May 13. "We've got one more chance at them."