SOUTHWEST GLENDALE — It wasn't known at the time, but the first inning of Saturday morning's District 16 9-10 Baseball All-Stars Tournament tilt between Jewel City-Jewish War Veterans and Tujunga foreshadowed the rest of the game.
Jewel City got things going early in the loser's bracket elimination game, scoring two runs on three hits, paced by Steven Gonzalez's triple with one out and runs batted in from Ernest Williams and Julian Dalfonso.
But the lead would be short-lived, as Tujunga answered with three runs in the bottom half for the first of several rallies over the course of the see-saw game to eventually secure a 9-7 win at Pacific Park.
"We knew it was going to be hard fought, but every game is," Jewel City Coach Philip Palmer said. "Everybody earned their spots here, so there are no easy outs, and no easy wins."
In the fifth inning, Dalfonso lined a double to score Gonzalez and Williams, who were on first after notching consecutive singles. The clutch hit gave Jewel City a 7-6 lead — the fourth lead change of the ballgame.
However, Tujunga came back in the bottom half of the inning to re-take the lead — the fifth lead change of the contest, and one that would not be relinquished.
With a two run lead, Tujunga pitchers Dakota Gray and Jason McGubbins struck out two of Jewel's three batters in the sixth inning to keep their season alive while ending the squad from Glendale's.
After scoring five runs in the first two innings, Jewel City was shut down by Tujunga relief pitcher Gray who pitched scoreless innings in the third and fourth innings while his offense came back to hold a 6-5 advantage after four innings.
Before Gray took the mound, Jewel City's bats stayed hot in the second inning, where Max Ocon's double drove in Joey Ruiz to tie up the score. Haig Krikorian singled in Ocon, followed by Gonzalez picking up Krikorian.
With Gray in the zone, though, Jewel City's lone runs came on the Dalfonso double.
"It boiled down to pitching," said Tujunga Coach Bryan Fannon, who got four strikeouts in strong three innings from Gray. "I knew in a game like this, the home team would be the one to pull it out. It was a great game."
Jewel City received solid relief work of its own from Ocon, who was called on with one out in the second inning, and pitched out of a jam in which Tujunga had the bases loaded with two outs. Ocon and Ruiz combined to give up four earned runs on seven hits.
Tujunga will face the winner of Foothill and Vaquero Monday in the third-place game of the tournament.
In the losing effort, Gonzalez sprayed three hits, while Williams and Dalfonso chipped in with two apiece.
"I'm most disappointed because of how hard they worked, I wanted to see them have success," Palmer said. "But they played hard, had fun and improved and that's what is most important."