For the first three innings of Saturday’s National Division game of the Babe Herman Tournament, the Crescenta Valley and Eastern high baseball teams lit up the scoreboard for a combined 14 runs.
For the next four innings, however, the Falcons and Vikings could hardly get a runner on base, as they combined for just two hits.
With the score tied at 7, the scoring resumed in the eighth inning at Stengel Field.
That’s when Eastern, out of New Jersey, took a one-run lead before the Falcons rallied for a 9-8 victory when Kyle Murray singled home Patrick Adams to end it.
The Falcons (8-4) will next play Redondo Union at 7 p.m. Monday in another National Division game. The top team from the National Division will play the American Division’s No. 1 seed at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Stengel Field in the championship game.
The Falcons, who won the tournament title last year, are hoping to repeat as champions.
They first had to get past a scrappy Vikings squad that landed in Los Angeles a day earlier and was enjoying the scenes of Southern California.
“We’re going to Universal Studios for Easter, then we’re going to the Dodger game and Santa Monica,” Eastern Coach Rob Christ said. “We may not leave.”
The Falcons thought they put the game out of reach when Ted Boeke blasted a grand slam over the center-field fence for a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
But Eastern (2-2) responded with four runs of its own in the top of the second inning. The Falcons answered with another three runs in the bottom of the second, including two runs on Cole Currie’s single to right that scored Elliot Surrey and Troy Mulcahey.
Eastern did not back down.
Thanks to two Falcon errors, two walks and a hit batsman, the Vikings scored three runs in the top of the third to tie the score at 7.
By the fourth inning, Falcon relief pitcher Chas Turansky and Eastern starting hurler Mike Marchitto settled down.
Turansky, the Falcons’ third pitcher of the night, retired 11 straight between the end of the third and beginning of the seventh inning.
“The No. 1 thing is to throw strikes and get runners out,” Turansky said. “I kept them off and on with changing speeds.”
Marchitto kept the Falcons frustrated, despite throwing 111 pitches through seven innings.
He allowed just three base runners between the third and seventh innings, striking out four during the process.
“Their pitcher did a great job after the first couple of innings,” said Falcon Coach Phil Torres, who received two runs scored each from Surrey and Boeke. “Chas did a great job, too.”
Turansky got in trouble in the top of the eighth inning.
Eastern started the inning with a single from Steve Priolo. Tom Bordi followed with a triple to right-center field that scored Priolo and forced Torres to replace Turansky.
CV relief pitcher Kyle Murray struck out two of the next three batters, stranding Bordi at third to end the inning.
Boeke led off the bottom half of the eighth.
“All I was thinking was get on base any way I can,” he said.
He reached base with a double to left.
Adams, a pinch-hitter, laid down a perfect bunt for a single to advance Boeke to third. A wild pitch plated Boeke for the tying run, setting up Murray’s heroics in the end.
Murray didn’t disappoint, lining a 1-0 pitch to center field to end the game.