Kiwanis comes through against J's to reach final

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Familiar foes Crescenta Valley Kiwanis and Crescenta Valley's J's Maintenance faced each other for the fifth and final time this season at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields on Sunday with a chance to play for the Tri-Cities District 16 Minor Softball Tournament of Champions title game.

Kiwanis had dropped three of the previous four to J's Maintenance, but prevailed this time, 9-7, and will play the Burbank Heart Breakers at 6 p.m. today at Scholl.

"It's always a close game when these two teams play," Kiwanis Coach Dan Jensen said after clinching a spot in the finals.

It was a see-saw affair, in which pitching was at a premium, until Kiwanis scored on a single from Tyler Herman in the third inning.

Starting pitchers Alexis Abboud of Kiwanis and Therese Oshiro of J's Maintenance gave up a combined two hits through the first two innings in what looked to be a low-scoring contest before the bats came alive.

J's Maintenance answered with two runs in the bottom half of the third inning. Michela Labellarte's triple tied up the score, and then she scored after Oshiro picked her up with a single.

The lead changed once more as Kiwanis took the lead back in the fourth behind doubles from Jordan Hinkle and Arleth Lima. Hinkle's double tied the game at two, while Lima's gave Kiwanis the 3-2 lead.

Lima would later score on a passed ball to make it 4-2.

Hinkle then took her place on the mound, relieving starting pitcher Abboud, who gave up one run on two hits in her three innings of work. Hinkle shut down the J's Maintenance lineup in the fourth inning, setting up a five-run fifth inning for Kiwanis.

"We started hitting the ball and stealing bases to jump out to that 9-2 lead," said Jensen, whose team stole four bases in the inning. "All game long we were good on the bases."

All five runs came on base running success for the Kiwanis and in turn, passed balls and errors made by J's Maintenance.

They would need all five runs, as J's Maintenance came back in the bottom of the fifth with two home-run balls, answering the Kiwanis rally with five runs of its own. Daisy Kim's three-run blast started things off before Amy Wurst got in on the long-ball action, driving in herself and Melissa Iyoya, who got on with a double.

With a slim 9-7 margin, Hinkle settled down after giving up the five runs and closed it out in the sixth, doing it herself for the third out, as she held on to a liner hit directly back at her.

"Alexis and Jordan pitched an amazing game," Jensen said. "Jordan shut them out and closed it out with the great stab."

Hinkle finished the game with three hits. Labellarte went two for three for J's Maintenance.

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