MONTROSE — Once the ball was hit to deep left field, Crescenta Valley Repipe Minor Baseball pitcher Chris Wood saw his instincts kick in and made a dash behind third base just in case a play needed to be made.
Wood's alertness — followed by an accurate throw — paid off in a big way and kept Repipe's season going.
Wood threw out the tying run at home plate after backing up an overthrow in the bottom of the sixth inning to help Repipe scratch out an 8-7 victory against Crescenta Valley Construction 911 in a Tri-Cities District 16 Tournament of Champions contest at Montrose Park.
With Repipe clinging to an 8-6 lead with one out, Sean Boyer hit a run-scoring triple over the head of left fielder Darian Jenks. Jenks retrieved the ball and threw the ball wide of third base. Wood backed up and made a perfect throw to catcher Brandon Abboud, who tagged out Boyer.
"I learned about backing up from my coaches," said Wood, who then recorded a strikeout to conclude the dramatic back-and-forth contest. "I saw the throw to third base and had it backed up.
"Once I backed up and saw [Boyer] trying to score, I knew I had to make a perfect throw home. I didn't want to make any mistakes on the throw home."
Repipe will now begin the double-elimination portion of the tournament with a contest against top-seeded Crescenta Valley Triscenic at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Montrose Park.
Repipe Coach Ed Lovato said Wood's alertness saved Repipe.
"Without a doubt, the biggest play of the game," Lovato said. "It was a huge out and it makes a lot of difference when you can back up on a play like that.
"It's something you just can't always teach. It's about natural instinct and it just kicked in for him to go there and back up on the play.
"I think that took the wind out of their sails. He gained confidence going into the last out and he slammed the door."
Construction 911 Coach Bob Bozanic, whose team had earlier overcome a multiple-run deficit, said the play was close.
"We got the big hit there and it was just a bang-bang play," Bozanic said. "We knew that these two teams were evenly matched.
"We were down early and then were able to come back. I'm very proud that we were able to hang in there and make it a good game."
Abboud scored on a double play to give Repipe a 1-0 lead in the first. Repipe then extended its lead to 4-0 in the third on a two-run single by Jenks and a bases-loaded walk to Wood.
Construction 911 responded with two runs in its half of the third, which included a run-scoring single by Bryce Vanneman to make it 4-2. Vanneman then scored on a wild pitch to cut the lead in half.
Abboud walked with the bases loaded in the fourth to give Repipe a 5-2 lead.
However, Construction 911 scored four runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-5 lead. The first two runs came via errors. Vanneman scored on a wild pitch to knot the game at 5 before a single to right by Ruben Munoz gave Construction 911 a 6-5 lead.
Repipe came back in the fifth to tie the game at 6 on a bases-loaded walk to Talon Carvalho.
Repipe then scored two runs in the sixth when Matthew Stickles scored on a force out and a Jenks grounder gave it an 8-6 lead.