NORTHEAST GLENDALE — A well-placed single with the bases loaded by Sako Chapjian might have been all the Glendale Angelenos needed to score two runs and win Friday night's California Collegiate League game against the Conejo Oaks at Stengel Field.
Instead, the Angelenos got a towering, walk-off grand slam from their right fielder out of Glendale Community College by way of Hoover High that won the game, 10-7, and could just be the rallying point the first-year CCL club needed to spark its slow-starting season.
"There isn't a greater feeling," said Chapjian, who homered twice in the game and drove in five runs. "You get that grand slam plus a walk-off home run to help your team win, it's just huge.
"[This win] was huge. After losing all those games, it's [about] just trying to come back and get a win, get back on a winning streak. You've got to build from there, it's a snowball effect."
Chapjian's moonshot, a no-doubter from contact, capped a ninth-inning comeback from a 7-6 deficit that began with a leadoff walk by Ellis Whitman, who stole second and went to third on a wild pitch before back-to-back walks loaded the bases with one out.
Josh Goosen-Brown worked a full count before hitting a fly ball that just didn't have enough distance for Whitman to tag up with the tying run, a moot consideration moments later when Chapjian left the yard.
"We need those wins," said Glendale Coach Tony Riviera, whose team is now over .500 on the season at 13-12, but in last place in league at 5-12. "We know that we're a much better ball club than pretty much every team in this league."
Homegrown talent came up big throughout the game for the Angelenos, who got three hits and three runs batted in from catcher Chad Nacapoy, a Crescenta Valley High graduate, and a pivotal pinch-hit at-bat in a tie game from John Schwer, who played for the Glendale college last season.
Schwer's seventh-inning infield single with Whitman on second base caused the Oaks' second baseman Trevor Koons to rush his throw to first base, resulting in an error that allowed Whitman to round third and score a go-ahead run. Schwer scored another run himself later in the seventh on a balk to make it 6-4.
But, the Angelenos were unable to hold the two-run lead, as the Oaks struck back with three runs in the top of the eighth.
Conejo's go-ahead rally began with a double by Nick Boggan, who advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by JC Aguayo to pull within 6-5.
With runners on first and second, the Angelenos recorded two huge outs on a sacrifice and a popout in foul territory, only to see the tying run score easily on a wild pitch one batter later. Conejo (14-10, 9-10 in league) would take a 7-6 lead on a fielding error moments later.
"The games that we've lost, we've lost – we've beaten ourselves," Riviera said. "If you don't allow runs, you don't lose games and that's where we've had some failure, a lot of errors and mental mistakes."
The Angelenos took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Nacapoy (three for four with two doubles and a walk) ripped a double over third base and into the corner of the park in foul territory.
Glendale starter Greg Fowler allowed a two-run home run in the top of the second to Kevin Swick and another two-run shot to Scott Heineman in the top of the fifth that made it 4-3 Oaks after Chapjian had given his team a 3-2 lead with a solo shot in the second.
Nacapoy singled in a go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth to tie it at 4. Michael Noteware of Glendale college pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the win.