THOUSAND OAKS — “Carmageddon” didn’t stop the La Crescenta 14-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team from making it to Thousand Oaks High on Saturday morning.
The closure of the 405 Freeway for construction and maintenance near the vicinity didn’t prove to be much of a deterrent for the locals, but they did encounter some gridlock on the field in their attempt to cut a clear path to the championship game of the Babe Ruth League Southern California State Tournament.
La Crescenta was knocked from the winner’s bracket in its morning game against El Segundo with a 9-1 loss before rallying back to the championship round with a 9-5 win over Simi Valley in a loser’s bracket game Saturday afternoon.
“It was a good bounce-back win,” La Crescenta Coach Dave Klein said of the victory over El Segundo, which puts the team in a 10 a.m. rematch with El Segundo for the championship today at Thousand Oaks, with an if-necessary title game set for 1 p.m. should La Crescenta win the first game. “We were fortunately able to save one of our best pitchers for tomorrow, so we’ll see if we can stay alive.”
Sean Garcia will take the hill for La Crescenta today after getting it done with his bat against Simi Valley on Saturday. Garcia had three hits on the day with a pair of doubles, including one that gave La Crescenta a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Simi Valley would tie the game at 2 in the second inning, but a two-run single by Chase Walker gave La Crescenta the lead back for good in the third inning.
Austin Salvador started the game on the mound for La Crescenta and went three innings before giving way to Brian Gadsby, who allowed just one run over the final four frames.
“We’re going into our fourth game now [today],” said Klein, whose team opened the three-team tournament with a win over Simi Valley on Friday. “The pitching starts to thin out, so that’s an advantage for [El Segundo].”
El Segundo scored eight times in the first three innings en route to its 9-1 victory Saturday, as La Crescenta couldn’t mount much offense against a stellar pitching performance by William Mossert, who didn’t allow a runner past first base in five strong innings.
Ryan Cancellos had a two-bagger for La Crescenta. Weston Walker, Bret Klein, Sean Garza and Thomas Phelps each added singles.
Nick Martinez had three hits and a couple of runs batted in to lead a well balanced offensive attack for El Segundo. Connor Underwood also added a couple of hits and Jackson Walz contributed a double.
El Segundo got off to a quick lead when Walz doubled home Martinez and Underwood in the top of the first inning. The team added four more runs in the second when a collection of walks, singles and a hit batter led to the offensive explosion.
El Segundo increased its lead to eight with two more runs in the third inning, highlighted by RBI singles by Martinez and Underwood. It added its ninth and final run in the sixth when Walz scored on a wild pitch.
La Crescenta’s lone run came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Thulani Kachincino reached on an error and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch.
Gabriel Rizk contributed to this story.