GLENDALE — After a first-round loss in the Section 2 Junior Baseball Tournament, the Crescenta Valley Junior Baseball All-Star team treated each and every game like it was the championship.
It paid off, as Crescenta Valley found itself facing Encino in the Section 2 tournament championship game Tuesday night at the Tehachapi Little League Fields. The locals came up short of capturing the tournament title, though, falling to Encino, 5-2.
"Every game was a championship game," said Crescenta Valley Coach Peter Cosfol, explaining his team's mindset after a opening-round loss to Tehachapi, 3-1, on Saturday. "It was one and done. If we win, we're the champs. That's the way we approached every game."
The first-round loss woke Crescenta Valley up, as the locals defeated San Marino, 7-6, on Sunday and avenged the earlier loss with an 8-5 victory against Tehachapi on Monday. The dramatic run through the loser's bracket came to an end Tuesday, though. If Crescenta Valley had won, it would have forced an if-necessary championship game today.
"We didn't fear [Encino], we were coming to take it," Cosfol said. "They had a fourth inning where they scored four runs on solid hits and you can't defend against solid hits."
Crescenta Valley strung together three hits of its own in the third inning to score the first run of the game.
Patrick Moreno singled to start the third. Mike Reilly and Christian Castaneda came up big with two outs. Reilly singled and Castaneda roped a double to score Moreno to give Crescenta Valley a 1-0 lead.
Encino responded and capitalized on three hits, a walk and a Crescenta Valley error for a four-run fourth inning, which built up the team's confidence, Cosfol said.
"It wasn't until they scored the four runs that [Encino] got pretty cocky," Cosfol said. "We kept our composure and just told the boys, 'Hey, we need to put runs on the board and keep focused on a victory.' Our boys did a great job on that and they held it close."
Reilly started the game on the mound for CV. He pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up seven hits and a walk. The locals had eight hits in the game, but didn't have the runs to back them up.
Crescenta Valley scored its second and final run of the game in the fifth inning. Reilly got the frame started with a single and took second on a wild pitch. Castaneda walked and Johnny Alvarado hit a fly ball to right field that was dropped, scoring Reilly to cut the lead to 4-2.
Encino answered right back with a run of its own in the sixth to conclude the scoring at 5-2.
"They hit the ball to the right places and runners got on," Cosfol said. "They had one big inning and after we scored our two runs we couldn't put anything else together."