NORTHEAST GLENDALE — The Tri-Cities District 16 Minor Softball Tournament of Champions title game between Crescenta Valley Kiwanis and the Burbank Heart Breakers played out in the exciting fashion one would expect in a winner-take-all game.
The nailbiting contest played Tuesday night at Scholl Canyon Ball Fields needed extra innings and more than the two-hour time limit to settle which team would be champion and runner-up.
Finally, with the sun setting in the eighth inning, Burbank's Ariana Farias stepped up to plate with Emily Monterrey on second base and lined a single to left field, scoring Monterrey for the game-winning run to give the Heart Breakers a 4-3 win and the championship.
"Heck of a game," said Heart Breakers Coach Richard Escamilla of the walk-off victory that had both coaches on the verge of using their fourth and final pitchers. "I believe in all of them. Any of them could have pulled through."
Crescenta Valley tied the game at 3 in the sixth inning on a Macie Jensen single that got through the left side of the infield, allowing Alexis Abboud to score.
Jordan Hinkle, who relieved Abboud in the fourth inning, pitched to her final three batters in the sixth inning, shutting them down in order to take the game to extra innings.
Escamilla sent Carley Gay to the mound after witnessing his starter Mia Storer strike out eight batters in three innings, including seven in a row, before giving the ball to Kaitlin Escamilla, who pitched three innings.
Gay pitched two perfect innings, picking up the win thanks to Farias' clutch hit.
"We battled, but give credit to Burbank, they battled too," said Kiwanis Coach James Hinkle. "Burbank was just a little better and we came up a little short today."
The game saw Kiwanis get on the scoreboard first. Arleth Lima singled home Hinkle, who reached on an error and stole second base.
Burbank answered with two runs in the bottom half of the first inning. Just as she was instrumental in the team's final run, Farias tied the ballgame at one run apiece, coming home on a passed ball.
With Escamilla on second base, Katelynn Monterrey connected on a single to give the Heart Breakers the 2-1 advantage.
Storer struck out the side in the second and third innings. Abboud, effective in her own right, gave up a third run on a wild pitch in the second inning.
It would be the final run for Burbank until the game-winner, while Crescenta Valley — on the back of Hinkle's pitching — rallied back to score in the fifth and sixth innings.
Ashley Steele's single in the fifth plated Jensen to cut the Heart Breakers' lead to 3-2.
Jensen returned the favor in the sixth inning, as she was at the plate to bring home the game-tying run of what would soon see two more innings of an already extraordinary game.
"We were on our fourth pitcher, Julie Sauer, who hadn't pitched much, but we had to warm her up anyway," Escamilla said. "It's good that we got the win when we did."