ENCINO — The adage, "practice makes perfect" has rung true for the Crescenta Valley Major Baseball All-Star team so far this season.
The squad has worked on its offense all season and it continued to pay off, as Crescenta Valley routed Quartz Hill, 14-2, in the first round of the Section 2 Tournament at Encino Little League Saturday morning.
"We work very hard on hitting with two strikes, that's one of the things we focus on in practice and do a lot of drills on — putting the ball in play with two strikes — and it's been paying off for us," said Drew Arredondo, Crescenta Valley's coach, who saw his team put the 10-run mercy rule into effect after five innings.
The two-strike hitting drills paid off for Frank Alsamman and Robert Giese, who both drove in three runs for CV. Crescenta Valley scored one run in the first inning and Alsamman delivered the first big blow of the game, a three-run home run in the second inning, to give his team a 4-0 lead.
Alsamman bashed the homer on a 2-2 fastball.
"I was just trying to put a good swing on it," said Alsamman, adding he wasn't nervous facing a 2-2 count because he's practiced for those situations.
The locals scored five runs in the fourth inning for a 9-0 lead, put up five more in the top of the fifth and gave up two runs in the bottom half.
Giese also came up big with two strikes Saturday. He put together a three for three game with three runs batted in for Crescenta Valley.
"I was pretty much sitting on all the right pitches and when I got two strikes the ball just seemed to go right where my bat was," Giese said. "It wasn't luck, it was just reacting to certain circumstances."
Crescenta Valley stayed hot Saturday, coming off a 17-1 win over the Tujunga in the District 16 championship game on Wednesday. Giese said his entire team is feeling confident after outscoring opponents, 31-3, in the past two games.
"Our whole lineup can hit and everyone is putting the bat on the ball," Giese said.
Adrian Damla also hit a two-run homer for Crescenta Valley. Jason Chang started out the game on the mound for the locals and pitched three shutout innings. Four CV pitchers combined to hold Quartz Hill to four hits, while Crescenta Valley had 13 hits.
Crescenta Valley was prepared for whatever it had to deal with, on or off the field, Saturday. The Encino Little League fields are located less than two miles from where construction on the San Diego (405) Freeway is being done on Saturday and Sunday to demolish half of the Mulholland Drive bridge as part of a widening project and construction of new carpool lanes.
Arredondo said the entire team agreed it was better to arrive early and not test the traffic of "Carmageddon." The team arrived at the park at 6:30 a.m. without any problems — the first sign it was going to be a good day.
"It was definitely a relief to get on the freeway and not have any problems getting here," Arredondo said. "We worried about that and wanted to make sure we weren't rushed or frazzled when we got here."
Most of the Crescenta Valley team stayed at the field to watch the second game of the day between Pasadena and Encino. The locals will face the winner of that game today at 9 a.m. at the Encino Little League fields.
"We know they're good teams but it doesn't really matter to us who we play, as long as we play our best we should win," said Nico Arredondo, who also had a hit in the game. "We have a lot of confidence. It comes back to practice because we are hitting the ball hard in practice too."